2014 Computer Skills Webinars

on Monday, August 25, 2014

This year the Extension Technology Unit will be holding a webinar via Adobe Connect on the first Wednesday of every month at 9 a.m..  Topic were chosen based on the training needs survey sent out earlier this week.

Emails explaining how to sign into the webinars will be sent to Extension employees well ahead of time.

Summer 2014 schedule

  • Sept. 3rd: Office 365 (Microsoft office suite, cloud storage, 5 free licenses from CSU)
  • Oct. 1st: Google Drive (browser-based office tools, cloud storage of documents)
  • Nov. 5th: Google+, Google Hangouts (social media via your Google account)
  • Dec. 3rd: iCloud (Apple's cloud storage of documents)


Google Hangouts On Air

on Friday, May 2, 2014

Google Hangouts On Air is a rich, feature-filled video meeting environment.  You can communicate via audio or video, share your screen, share a document residing on Google Drive, take control of another participant's computer screen (with their permission of course), and even stream your meeting live on YouTube.

Here's how it works.  All participants need to have a Google account (if you have a gmail address you have a Google account).  Sign in and click your name at the upper right (screenshot at right).  This will take you to your Google+ dashboard.

 At the upper left of the new page you will see a pulldown menu.  Choose Hangouts.

Choose Hangouts on Air, then Choose Start a Hangout On Air (screenshot below).

The dialogue box that appears (screenshot below) allows you to name the session and give it a description.  You can start the session immediately by selecting Now, or choose Later and select a meeting time.  Under Audience, you can type in individual gmail addresses or circles of friends, and even choose Public if you like, where the meeting will be publicly broadcast on YouTube.

Click the big blue Start button. Once the meeting begins, there are an array of options available to you from the toolbars to the left and at the top (screenshot below).  You can communicate audio only, or with video and audio (all participants will have those options as well).  You also have options to open a chat window share your screen, share a document through Google Drive, share a YouTube video, invite new participants on the fly, take control of another computer, and much more.  
We'll present a much more detailed webinar on how to use Hangouts On Air this Fall. 


on Wednesday, February 26, 2014

There are many task organizing programs out there, from Outlook to Evernote to Google tasks, that can track a project you are working in detail and with great precision, sync across platforms, and in some cases allow you to assign different tasks to different groups.  They are all excellent tools.

Sometimes, however, you need just the opposite: a simple to do list where you can quickly write things down that you need to do that day, as they occur to you.  I use Wunderlist (www.wunderlist.com/), and I like it.  It's simple and straightforward.  I keep it on my desktop, nearly always open, and add tasks as they occur to me, check off tasks I've completed.  It syncs across platforms so you can access it from your phone or tablet.  You can drop and drag tasks into Work, Personal, and other categories, or create your own categories.  You can also add due dates and reminders.

It's simple, it's easy, it gets the job done. And it's free!



Social Fixer (formerly Better Facebook)

on Friday, January 31, 2014

Social Fixer (socialfixer.com), formerly called Better Facebook, is exactly that: a way to streamline Facebook to take out the annoying features, and tweak the ones you want to keep, to create a better Facebook experience.

It's free, and will automatically discover what browser you are using and provides the appropriate add-in.  Once added, it will take you through a Wizard to show you to use the most commonly used features of Social Fixer.  A small icon will then appear in the upper right corner to give you access to all the tools available in Social Fixer.

You should definitely click the icon to see all the options allowed (the screenshot below is just one of fourteen tabs of options).  The Wizard will take you through the most basic options, but clicking the icon and seeing all the options available is really where Social Fixer begins to shine.  You can change the width of the display (or go full width of your browser window), add and remove features in the side columns, force the most recent stories to display first (as opposed to Facebook deciding what you want to see), get rid of sponsored posts, change color themes, even write your own CSS for your Facebook page.

Because of the sheer number of available options, it takes some tweaking to get things just right, turning off some features after you've tried them, turning some features back on.  But after getting a sense of how Social Fixer works, you can customize Facebook to make it a much more useful and enjoyable experience.

The New Prezi

on Thursday, November 21, 2013

Prezi is a free, browser-based, online presentation tool that allows you to build presentations that are a refreshing change from the tired familiarity of PowerPoint.  It allows you to break away from the march-step of bullet points that PowerPoint forces you into, and offers a non-linear and visually exciting way to present information.

The interface has changed rather drastically since last year. The zebra and bubble tool are gone (I personally loved working with the zebra), and replaced with more traditional menu choices at the top of the screen (upper left), as well as clearly labeled editing options when an object is selected (lower left).

The result is still the same, and old Prezis can be edited with the new tools.  It is still a excellent alternative to  PowerPoint.   Below I've embedded a presentation that gives you an idea of what a Prezi presentation looks like, as well as some tips on how to create an effective presentation (best viewed full-screen, use your left and right arrow keys to navigate).

There will be a Connect session on how to work with the new Prezi interface early next year.

Free Photoshop Express App

on Friday, November 8, 2013

The desktop version of Photoshop is a pretty pricey program, so it is surprising that the Photoshop Express app is free (there is a $9.99 version as well, Photoshop Touch, which is more robust).  Admittedly, the online message boards are alight with dissatisfied users who preferred the previous version of Photoshop Express, but personally I found it easy and fun to use, with an intuitive interface and useful, if limited, set of tools. It is available for both Apple and Android devices, and both tablet and phone.

There are more tools available on the tablet version (screenshot at right) than there are the phone version (screenshot at left).  Both allow you to do basic cropping/rotating/straightening and color correction.  Both have a variety of special effects and borders from which to choose.  Available (and free!) at the iTunes Store and Google Play.

Quickoffice App is Free!

on Monday, October 21, 2013

If, like me, you've already paid $19.99 for Quickoffice Pro, you might not be too happy to hear this, but now Google is offering Quickoffice for free.  You need to have a Google account to use it, and since it works in concert with Google Drive (formerly Google Docs), you will need that free app as well. You can get it in the iTunes store or at Google Play.

Quickoffice allows you to view, edit and create Microsoft Office documents created in Word, Powerpoint and Excel on your tablet or phone.   It is designed to work seamlessly with Google Drive, automatically saving and retrieving documents from there.  Unlike the old paid version, you cannot easily retrieve documents from other cloud services, such as Dropbox.  This is the only real drawback to the new version.

The good news: the new version makes it much easier to create documents from scratch, which was an annoying problem in the old version (my personal opinion).  The old version is not fully compatible with iOS7 (the latest Apple OS), and will not be supported after March, 2014.

For the next two years, Google is giving you 10gb of storage for free, as an incentive to using it.  And it's free!  So, if you are a current user of Quickoffice Pro, or looking for an app to create and view MS Office documents on, I'd recommend Quickoffice.