Computer articles

Computer group articles

Group report

This is an article published in the Winter 2017 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter...

Owing to the upheavals of moving from a house into a flat, and the subsequent building works, several meetings were cancelled in recent months; this has not had the impact on members which might be expected. Our principal activity is addressing problems or topics brought up by the members. However problems are in decline, partly because software and hardware suppliers are improving the usability of their products and partly because people, especially those in the younger generation, are becoming more computer literate. So U3A members usually have assistance fairly close at hand or at least on the end of a telephone or email. If this trend continues I can see this group morphing into the "Computers and Current Affairs Group".

So although in the last year, members have had to convert (or been converted!) to Windows 10, the problems have not been so many as expected. Even emails, though still susceptible to annoying changes by suppliers, are getting more straightforward. We have room for new members and we don't have much discussion on very technical matters. We are even gaining experience on the use of tablets, though this is an area where suppliers should publicise the capabilities of their products.

Contact me if you are interested.

Peter Hill

How to Deal with Problems with Attachments

Many people encounter problems when trying to open attachments to emails that they have been sent. This article discusses the problems, how to deal with them and how to avoid creating problems when you send them.

Most frequent seem to be associated with word processed files (word files for short). The problem is that there are various word processors and each tend to produce a document in its own native format by default. If you are only using these on your own computer, you are not aware of the problem because you use the same word processor to read them and write them. It is when you send the document to someone else who uses a different word processor that the problem may arise. You may think that "Microsoft Word" is used by everybody and/or all versions of "Microsoft Word" use the same format, but this is not the case.

"Microsoft Word" is quite expensive these days although in the past, versions were distributed free with a new computer. Consequently people are now starting to use free word processors*, which though they are as good as the Microsoft version, have different native file formats. The users of Apple computers have a different word processor, and are becoming more numerous.

The solution to this problem is to use an international format referred to as "PDF" ( Portable Document Format ) which is commonly used for Manuals etc., and for which readers are readily available**. Your computer may have a reader installed already to allow you to read your computer manual. The difference between the PDF document and the "word" document, is that your word processor cannot usually read it. So you cannot edit it yourself.

Most modern word processors can produce PDF files. In the "file" menu, or equivalent, click on "save as" Instead of "save". Then in the box below the line where you can put in the file name, click on the "down" arrow to select PDF format. Alternatively, sometimes there is an "output as PDF" (or similar) option in the file menu which will do the job.

I will discuss dealing with incompatible formats in the next installment.

* For a good free word processor, try this.

**For a free PDF reader, Adobe reader is the standard.