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3 Reasons To Bring Your Mom to DWC

In today’s fast-paced and ultra-connected world, technology is what holds us together. It drives our commerce, supports our social lives, and is the tool we use to create our futures. The amazing thing is that computers haven’t even been around that long- it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that most families owned their own desktop, and it would be almost another two decades before smart phones became a thing. If you’re under the age of 30, chances are you’re extremely comfortable with technology and can traverse the digital terrain with no problems. But many older people are just now entering the personal computing market, or have been struggling to catch up with their now-outdated technologies. Some of our parents and grandparents may be feeling lost or left out in the data-driven modern life, but luckily there are people and places out there that can help. At Digital Workshop Center, we offer several classes that can help our community elders master the latest and greatest smart phones, tablets, and computers. Here are just three great reasons to bring them in and sign them up today! They can harness their email with Computer 101 There are few places that still offer the most basic of computer classes, which is a shame considering how many people could still benefit from them. In our Computer 101 course, we can teach anyone how to be comfortable with the day-to-day functions of their laptop or desktop including, but not limited to: Organizing files and folders Browsing the internet and saving bookmarks Composing and filing emails Sending and receiving photos and videos We have courses in both Mac and PC applications, taught by our resident computer gurus, which are perfect for anyone who is new to computing or simply making a transition from one system to the other. They can stop sending embarrassing texts with iPhone/iPad 101 Many of us may find humor in reading the latest “texts from my mom” memes that are floating around the internet, but secretly we hope that will never happen to our own parents. Help them avoid a technology gaffe by bringing them and their new iPhone or iPad into Digital Workshop Center for our intro class. In only 3 hours, this course can help anyone master their shiny new Apple product by teaching things like: Downloading, deleting, and using apps Checking weather, email, and news Finding files, music, and photos Navigating the internet browser Sending text messages or photos Whether you’re 60 and you got a new iPad for your birthday or you’re 30 and just switched from an Android to an Apple phone, this is the class for you! Learning the ins and outs of any piece of technology is a worthwhile investment, as it will save you time and effort the more you use it. And not to mention, save you from any embarrassing fumbles. They can capture memories with Digital Photography Classes Digital cameras are everywhere these days, but many people still struggle with understanding all the complicated settings and gizmos that make them work. Everyone can appreciate the importance of photography, especially when it comes to preserving family memories and exploring new hobbies. People over 50 are one of the fastest growing groups purchasing new digital cameras, and we’re here to help them get started taking photos painlessly. Just a few of the things we can teach them include: Using both auto and manual shooting Settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO Basic composition Importing image files onto a computer We offer basic courses in getting to know either your digital SLR (DSLR) or point...

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Top 3 Beginner Excel Mistakes to Avoid

When beginning to use Microsoft Excel, there are several key mistakes that all students should avoid in order to be successful for the long term of a project.  Depending on your industry and specific Excel needs, this list of pitfalls can certainly become a long one. I’ve narrowed down the top 3 mistakes that all beginning Excel users should avoid.   You didn’t set your workbook up for success When you start a Microsoft Excel workbook, you need to do a little bit of project planning. Ask yourself some key questions and you will be able to use the built-in features of Excel much easier.  Questions you should ask include: How much data do I expect to include in this project over the long term? If you know how much data to expect, in terms of columns and rows, it will drastically change how you may organize the workbooks to begin with. For example, if you have data based on a date, you might want to create separate worksheets for each month (12) and an annual summary worksheet for a total of 13 worksheets.  Using this method, your data will remain smaller in size, more manageable and your risk of human error will be much lower. How can I organize the data into the smallest meaningful values? For every field of your data, you should ‘normalize’ the information. Normalized means that your data is in the smallest meaningful values.  A classic example of normalization is how you are going to capture ‘Name’ data on a contact list.  If you accept both First and Last Name into one field called ‘Name’, then how will you sort by Last name in the future?  It will be very difficult.  However, if you break this into two distinct fields, First Name and Last Name, then you have the data normalized and setup for success. Is this workbook pertaining to one subject? If you’re creating workbooks on different subjects, then you should use separate worksheets or workbooks to keep the information organized. One of the worst mistakes in Excel is to try and combine a lot of unrelated data into one worksheet or workbook.  Using Excel formulas and references you can easily tie data together across worksheets, so you should use the tools given to you for better organization of the data. You are not using Excel references properly An Excel reference is simply a way to refer to a cell, worksheet, or workbook by location instead of using constant values. By using references properly, your spreadsheets stay dynamic and, most importantly, accurate.The most common mistake when using references is to not utilize ‘absolute’ references.  By default, all cell references in Excel use a type of reference called a ‘relative’ reference.  This is important to understand because, when a cell reference is relative, the cell reference will change automatically when you copy/paste.An ‘absolute’ reference means that you always point to the same cell no matter what, so copy/paste will not affect the references used.  This a key component of Excel spreadsheet building and you must understand how to utilize effectively to be successful in Excel. You are individually formatting cells When you have your spreadsheet data ready, you should then begin to format it appropriately. However, you don’t need to continually make the same formatting choices over and over.   When you format one cell or range of cells, you can copy that formatting using a tool called the ‘format painter’.  This is essentially a tool to copy/paste the formatting only.  Format painter is a huge time saver.An even more effective formatting technique is to utilize the...

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Microsoft Excel Cheat Sheet

Download the Microsoft Excel Cheat Sheet for FREE! The Digital Workshop Center provides free cheat sheets on many popular software applications. If you are looking for a quick Microsoft Excel reference sheet, then we’ve got just the thing for you! The Excel cheat sheet includes several useful shortcuts and common commands to help you be more efficient and confident while working in Excel. Several of these commands are included in our hands-on Excel Level 1 training class, so if you need more Excel help please contact the Digital Workshop office.  Stay tuned for more cheat sheets coming soon! Click the link to download the cheat sheet in PDF format: Microsoft Excel Cheat Sheet...

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Gantt charts help manage business progress

Construction, health care and engineering are among the common industries that consistently have long-term project plans in place. At the Digital Workshop, we’re lucky to work with some of the biggest regional names in these industries to help them improve their project management and software skills. One of the major reporting views that long-term projects utilize is called a Gantt chart. As the default chart view in Microsoft Project, and available in other project management applications, the Gantt chart has a long history of providing a graphical diagram of your project’s status and lifetime. Project management software like Microsoft Project is designed to help you be more efficient and closely monitor project tasks and resources. In Office 365, there are now more online collaboration tools than ever before, allowing project managers to work with their teams from anywhere. The Gantt chart provides a way for a project manager to view project tasks and resources over time. Typically, on the left of a Gantt chart will be a list of tasks and/or resources, with a time scale across the top. The plots on the chart are small shapes representing the duration of the task on each line. Furthermore, Gantt chart plots will often have connecting lines to show how one task connects to another and the dependency between them. This dependency is vital to a project’s timeline because the delay of one task can impact related tasks and the projected completion date. The Gantt chart automatically updates when related tasks are ahead or behind schedule. According to Gantt.com, the chart’s history dates back to the late 19th century. Gantt.com says “the first Gantt chart was devised in the mid 1890s by Karol Adamiecki, a Polish engineer who ran a steelworks in southern Poland and had become interested in management ideas and techniques. Some 15 years after Adamiecki, Henry Gantt, an American engineer and management consultant, devised his own version of the chart and it was this that became widely known and popular in western countries.” Gantt charts were originally written by hand, and consistently updated throughout a project’s life cycle. This was a tedious, time-consuming process. However, modern adoption project management software, managers have a fast, easy way to update all project, task, and resource information. In addition, newer software versions allow you to view resources and budgets, and to create customized reports to extract information to help you make informed decisions. The Gantt chart is available in other software programs. However its effectiveness can’t be compared to project management software like Microsoft Project. Before you begin a manual process of creating your own project timeline in another software, consider looking at a Gantt chart and learn the tricks that project managers have known for...

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SmartArt a hidden gem for business publications

Business processes, hierarchies and goals can be difficult to effectively communicate. While many applications on the market can help you in the design process, the cost of entry for these can far outweigh the need. For example, you might have a medium to large business hierarchy diagram that is constantly changing. With employees constantly coming and going, you need an easy way be sure that the information in the graphic is kept up to date. If this is a need that your business has, Microsoft Word, the most popular word processing program, has many features that can help you get started. There is a graphic feature called SmartArt that can help you create simple, flexible diagrams. Going beyond Microsoft Word, SmartArt is also available in several of the other Microsoft Office programs including Excel, Visio and PowerPoint. SmartArt includes a graphic solution for lists, processes, cycles, hierarchies, relationships and more. After you decide the appropriate format, SmartArt includes two contextual tabs that allow you to control the design and format of the graphic. The items in the graphic are controlled through the Text Pane and work similar to a bullet list, where you can create top-level items and then sub-items as needed. The individual shapes of a SmartArt graphic can be designed independently, or you can control the overall design to maintain a consistent look. In addition, when you change a font size of one SmartArt object, all related items will change their size proportionally. One of the best ways I have implemented SmartArt at the Digital Workshop Center is to create a simple infographic to help explain our certification programs. An infographic is a graphical way to describe our services, combining text and graphic elements to convey the information in a unique way. SmartArt allows me to create a simple infographic within an existing Office document and avoid the time involved with using a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop. SmartArt is one of the many tools that are underutilized in the Microsoft Office suite. One of the comments about SmartArt I regularly hear in our classes is “I had no idea that existed in Microsoft Office!” I encourage you to try inserting it into your next Office document and start creating a SmartArt diagram for...

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How SharePoint Can Help Your Business

In a recent Microsoft class, a student asked another student “So, what is SharePoint?” Most of the class had no answer. Microsoft SharePoint is an enterprise solution to achieve common business goals by communicating in one central location and managing information between a team. While not suited for every business, the tools SharePoint offers have become invaluable for those who wish to invest the time and resources to do it correctly. SharePoint includes collaboration technology, email and calendars packaged into one convenient resource. The information on SharePoint is often hosted internally, which means a higher level of security for your business data. The SharePoint administrator can assign user roles to grant or deny access to different team members. SharePoint allows you to create unlimited team sites, sub-sites and a variety of lists. Lists can include announcements, tasks, reviews, contacts, discussion boards and more. Using SharePoint libraries, you can create a customized structure to organize your company’s files. A library could be for any type of file, at any size and any quantity. A library can also allow you to create your own business wiki, a user-generated content site. The vast capabilities of file organization and sharing are one of the most popular features of SharePoint. Additional features include document version control, advanced collaboration tools and integration with other Microsoft Office Suite products. With all of these features, you can start to see how powerful this cloud technology can be for your business. So, what’s the downside? The cost, which can be daunting. SharePoint is really geared toward larger enterprises, so the cost entry point for small business is higher than most can afford. Leave it to Microsoft to build a great product and then price the little guys out of being able to use it. To combat steep entry costs, there are external hosting solutions you can consider if you lack the equipment or staff to support a whole SharePoint deployment internally. Many companies offer SharePoint hosting and will provide technical support. However, your data is stored off-site, so security considerations immediately arise if you go this route. At the Digital Workshop, we recently did a huge training for a federal government office in Fort Collins and found that it was a perfect solution for the size of their business, the sensitivity of their data and the fact that they had many offices around the country looking to collaborate. However, when smaller businesses ask me if SharePoint is right for them, I am not so quick to say yes. If you are considering SharePoint for your business, be sure to weigh all the factors of time, cost and security before you get started. [Originally posted in the Coloradoan on...

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