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Intro to Mac OS X – Part I

With holiday marketing in full swing, you may have finally given into Apple’s seemingly incessant marketing campaign and purchased your first Apple computer. After getting your computer home, taking it out of the box, and guiding yourself through a simple set-up process, you arrive at a home screen that is completely alien. All of a sudden you feel homesick. You long for the comfort and familiarity of Windows 7 Windows XP. Do not fret, however. With a small amount of time you will feel right at home with your new Mac and you may never go back. The first thing you will notice on your Mac is the home screen. A Mac’s calling card is its simplicity and aesthetic appeal. The Desktop The Dock Let’s break down the important aspects of this screenshot. The first thing that will catch your eye is what Apple calls the “Dock.” This will be the home to all of the important applications that you want quick access too. Adding or removing icons from the Dock is simple. All you have to do to add an application is to drag the desired application from the Applications folder in finder to the Dock. To remove an application from the Dock, two-finger click (right-click) on the application you would like to remove. Then, click Options>Remove from Dock. The Menu Bar Now, let’s take a look at the menu bar. The menu bar essentially breaks down into a left side and a right side. On the left side, you will notice the “Apple” menu: its essential functions include sleep, restart, shut down, and force quit. The remaining part of the left-hand side of the menu bar is used to provide you the menu options for whatever application you have open.  This will be the most confusing aspect of the menu bar for users who are new to Mac OS. Notice how the only constant on the left-hand side of the menu bar is the Apple menu.  These options will always change based on whatever window you have clicked on last. You may have several windows open at one time so getting used to these menu features may take some time to get used to. The right side of the menu bar will contain several icons that are “locked in” to provide quick access.  You will notice options for date/time, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, as well as any other applications you have allowed to appear on the menu bar. Not all applications will have this option so they will not automatically appear on this part of the menu. The Finder Mac OS’s version of “My Computer” is finder. This is where you will go to manage your files into folders and how you will browse your Mac to find your files. You will find the icon for Finder located on the Dock. After opening Finder, you will notice that it is separated into two categories, Favorites and Devices. The Favorites category contains links to folders on the Mac. You may add or remove folders by clicking and dragging. The Devices category shows you anything that you have connected to your Mac. This includes internal hard drives, external hard drives, USB drives, Optical drives, etc. This will be the feature that reminds new Mac users of a PC’s “My Computer” option. The navigation is very similar. There are two things to notice about this Finder window. The two bars, one being document location and the other being drive status, are turned off by default. I like having these things open as they provide valuable information about my documents and machine. Clicking...

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Microsoft Word: How to Fix Those Pesky Formatting Issues

When it comes to word processing, there is no doubt that Microsoft Word is the go-to program (although Mac users could make a pretty good argument for Pages). However, for all of the convenience and usefulness Word provides us, we’ve all had to deal with its unfathomable desire to format for us. It could happen at any time, to anyone and we’ve all been tempted to chuck our Macs or PCs straight out of the office window because of it. Luckily, DWC is here to save your computer, your window, and your mind with these useful tips to fix those pesky formatting errors. Diagnostics The first major issue with Word is that we sometimes truly don’t understand it. It’s an “it’s not you, it’s me” thing. Nothing is more frustrating than a phantom indentation that throws off the entire focus of the paper. Like any true relationship, we don’t understand because we don’t listen. Unbeknownst to many of us, Word offers diagnostic tools that will help understand what is really going on. 1. The first step to understanding our paper is to reveal what we are really doing when we type. By turning on Word’s “Reveal Formatting Marks” feature, we can get a quick and simple assessment of our formatting. This feature can easily be found on Words home taskbar (indicated by the ¶ symbol on the taskbar shown below). This feature will show where you have used the following three functions: Hard return at the end of the line (¶) Tabs (→) Spaces between words (Ÿ) 2. Perhaps even more useful than revealing formatting marks, Word allows users to reveal the formatting of any selected piece of text. Pressing SHIFT + F1 calls up the “Reveal Formatting” menu seen below. Additionally, this box allows you to compare to boxes of text in order to cross-reference your formatting. This is the perfect feature if to use if you feel that something is amiss in a couple of paragraphs, but you just can’t put your finger on it. Select and highlight one section of text, check the “Compare to Another Selection” box at the top of the above menu, and then select/highlight the selection of text you would like to compare. Make sure to take note of the blue hyperlinked options in the above menu. Word has conveniently placed these hyperlinks within the menu so that you have quick access to additional options that will fix or modify the selected text. This is a great way to save a few additional minutes that could be spent perusing extra menus. 3. Don’t ban the bar! That handsome gray strip that runs along the bottom of your Word window has the potential to be so much more than just eye candy. By right-clicking any of that empty gray matter, you will be able to add useful options to the bottom of your page. As you can see, Word offers plenty of options that make your life easier. The “Section Number,” “Page Number,” “Spelling/Grammar Check,” “Track Changes,” “Macro Recording,” and “View Shortcuts” tabs are all ones that I have found to be very useful. I Need This Fixed Now! Let’s face it – there are certain times when we could care less why something isn’t working. We no longer have the time nor patience to run the aforementioned diagnostic checks; we just need it to be right. Word does give users a few quick options that allow users the opportunity to quickly fix the problem. The following are perfect options for those of you who love pushing deadlines to the limit. CTRL +...

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Keyboards: Slow Typing By Design

[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 8/17/12] Every time I look at the personal computer keyboard, I can’t help but wonder who invented the thing. The modern Qwerty keyboard is a mystery to many because it doesn’t seem to follow any logical pattern when compared to the English language. For one of the typing courses I teach, I decided to do a little research because this question continued to irk me. It turns out the motive behind the design of this keyboard is even stranger than you may think. In 1872, Christopher Latham Sholes, a Milwaukee newspaperman, poet and part-time inventor, was the main creator of the machine we know as the typewriter. According to typingweb.com, Sholes invented the machine for convenience to replace handwriting of documents. His original model typed in all capital letters and was a decorative machine, with flowers and decals, as it was first manufactured by the sewing machine department of Remington Arms. However, Sholes soon faced a huge problem with the first typewriters. If a typist typed too fast, the keys on the machine would jam. After months of trials to fix the machine, Sholes decided in desperation that the only way to use the machines effectively was to slow down the typist. Sholes reorganized the keys on the typewriter in such a foreign pattern that it forced the typist to slow down. This new layout is what we still refer to today as the Qwerty pattern because those are the first six letters of the typewriters’ second row. With this new pattern, frequently used pairs of type bars wouldn’t clash together and get stuck at the printing point. The original Sholes model didn’t sell well, but eventually the Remington model became more popular and evolved into more modern typewriters and current computer keyboards. Despite several other models that came along to challenge the Qwerty layout, it was so ingrained in the typing industry at that point that it remained on top of its competitors. So, despite the fact that we all use keyboards now instead of typewriters, we’ve kept the Qwerty design because of its popularity, despite the fact that it actually slows us all down while we’re typing. A great example of early American ingenuity and how it has helped mold us in the digital age. Now, think about this story the next time you think you’re typing too slow. It turns out is not your fault after all. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Reach him at (970) 980-8091 or...

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