OT: help understanding "new" technology

I'm 44 years old, so just missed out at school as "computers" came in. I'm practical, mathematical and good at doing stuff myself, but I get increasingly frustrated that not only do I have no idea what the answers are to questions like: - how do I load my old VCR's onto something more efficient so I can then bin them? - how do I properly back up my PC? - how do I most efficiently interconnect my Hi-Fi, PC, TV, home cinema and the kids' iPods - what does an iPhone do that other devices don't? - can I have a wireless home PC setup rather than cable spaghetti? - can I be sure when it's okay for my kids to download stuff from various websites
... but I have NO IDEA where to even BEGIN to look for the answers.
Is there any one place I might EASILY find answers to questions like this: a forum like this one? A book? An evening class? Find a 20- year old IT college student and pay for personal tuition? A shop with good salesmen who'll take the time to talk to me?
Any suggestions most welcome!
John
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On 3 Sep, 11:31, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Hi John,
Interesting post. We are in the process of putting together a web-site which contains clear, plain language illustrated tutorials on how to perfrom basic tasks with your computer.
Have a look at the "Tutorials" section on www.kpcomputerstore.co.uk. I think I shall use some of your questions as the basis for upcoming tutorials - so please let me know if there is anything more specific you would like to know, and I shall do all I can to help.
Thanks, Mark. -- www.kpcomputerstore.co.uk
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snipped-for-privacy@kpcomputerstore.co.uk wrote:

Spam snipped

Mark,
Rather than respond to a pair of blatant spam adverts, I would recommend that any technophobe enrol with their local college to gain this sort of information - it's a rather cheap and painless way of doing it, and if they're unemployed or retired, it's *free* - along with the bonus that they can learn various tips and tricks off their classroom peers along the way.
I did this for several years as an 'oldie', and the hints, help and bits of gear etc that I picked up from the rest of the class (particularly the youngsters in their teens) was absolutely amazing.
So in the words of the immortal prophet - spammer, use a bit of sex and travel!
Unbeliever
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In article

The sensible way to do it is to start with just one thing.

Have you ever asked a doctor what he thinks of someone who comes along with a list of maladies? He'd probably say you can't be very concerned about them if you wait such long time to seek treatment. Your question sort of fits that.
--
*Before they invented drawing boards, what did they go back to?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Mark - if it's of any use to you, you have full permission to reproduce or edit any of the links / info from my site* (i've tried to give an intro into cleaning out malware in non-tech-talk)
http://www.coreutilities.co.uk
Just remember to remove my contact address from the about page :-p
My philosophy on this is that the info shouldn't be kept private, it should be freely available to anyone who needs it, hence i'm not arsed who reproduces it.
*i'd prefer it if it wasn't used on a "subscription" basis, but given freely - that said, you have my full permission regardless.
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In article

I can't see how you've 'followed' this group for 10 years and not picked up on many of the very things you're asking about.
But anyway I've given you such advice for many of the things you're asking about - use Google. You can surely differentiate between an advertising site and one which gives advice?

Why are people who want something for nothing often so rude?
--
*When the chips are down, the buffalo is empty*

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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*plonk*
--
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We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember John Rumm

Fuck off with your lecture.
--
Dave
GS850x2 XS650 SE6a
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wrote:

Plonk!
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In article

VCRs have been around for a very long time and copying from one hasn't changed. Just the medium it's copied to.

Again computers are hardly new and this was one of the first issues that came up.

Lots of different ways. But do you really need to?

Read the ads?

Again, two seconds browsing would give the answer. Even asking in PC World or Maplin.

Don't let them download anything is the answer.

Google is a good start. If you know how to use it. Ask your kids how.

I can't really see why you've left all this so late. Keeping up with each individual development that interests you at the time is far easier. Otherwise just pay someone else to do it all for you.

--
*Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice?"

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Either use a DVD based video record and transfer them, or use a video capture card on a PC.

Depends on what you want to back up, how much, what importance etc. Can you expand a little on the requirements?

A bit vague... can you be more specific?

Make money for Apple? Looks flash, quite nice UI, poor phone, bit of a curate's egg.

Yes
No, you need to teach them how to keep themselves safe, and the implications of them not doing so.

Some we can answer here, if we had a bit more detail.

Yes, yes, possibly, maybe

Hard to find, but if you are lucky.
--
Cheers,

John.

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In uk.d-i-y, wrote:

I'm not so sure about the "so". I'm nearly 20 years older than you and I remember programming computers at school, in Fortran.
But anyway...

If possible, get yourself along to a good newsagents and look at the magazines on sale. They're not perfect by any means but over the months and years they'll drip feed you all the information you need to answer those questions, and more.
For instance Personal Computer World recently had a long article on converting VHS tapes to DVDs.
Backing up your PC is also a popular topic, with "how to" articles, product comparisons, and more.
For home AV you'd need a different sort of magazine and in my experience they're rather short on substance but still worth a look.
Etc.
My personal monthly technology fodder is PC Pro, Personal Computer World, and T3. Read and absorb the interesting stuff from that lot and you'll be painlessly converted into a confident semi-expert in no time at all.
--
Mike Barnes

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I think a class at your local FE college.
I used to teach computing to people who'd never touched a keyboard, and there was something safe and reassuring about discussing all manner of IT-tec things in a group. Each year there was always some trauma at the start, but somehow *everyone* managed, the confidence boost students got was incredible, and they ended up enjoying the experience - and gaining a qualification.
Incidentally, I'm 45 and was lucky enough to have been taught by a maths teacher who'd got hold of an IBM computer of some sort, and gave small groups guidance. I managed a few lines of code to solve quadratic equations - if I could, I'm sure you could :-)
Best of luck with it anyway - I think it's great that you've got an enquiring mind.
Rob
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Yes, my wife teaches one of those in East Kent....!
There's also a series of books called 'Computing for Seniors' which don't seem too bad (in fact I was asked to write them, but was too busy at the time).
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I think a class at your local FE college.
I used to teach computing to people who'd never touched a keyboard, and there was something safe and reassuring about discussing all manner of IT-tec things in a group. Each year there was always some trauma at the start, but somehow *everyone* managed, the confidence boost students got was incredible, and they ended up enjoying the experience - and gaining a qualification.
Incidentally, I'm 45 and was lucky enough to have been taught by a maths teacher who'd got hold of an IBM computer of some sort, and gave small groups guidance. I managed a few lines of code to solve quadratic equations - if I could, I'm sure you could :-)
Best of luck with it anyway - I think it's great that you've got an enquiring mind.
Rob
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Well answered already, but if anything's of value I'd bag it and put it in the loft rather than bin. Tapes last well, DVDs dont, especially not ones with a bluish tint.

that one's simple. Get yourself an external USB hard disk (40-70), plug into computer, and once its running create a new folder on it labelled 'backup sept 08' etc. To copy your data from pc to usb disc, just go to 'my documents' or wherever it is, contrl A to select everything, control C to copy, go to the usb disc and do control v to dump it all there.
That backs all your data up, but not the system settings. If you also want to backup system settings, winxp has a wizard to do that.
When buying a usb hard disk, check on the MTBF rating of a disk before buying. There are short lived disks out there with as litle as 50k hours. 50% of those will be dead after 50k hours. Googling the model number will get you mbtf ratings.
What capacity? 4x the amount of data you've got to back up should last you several years.
Now bear in mind thats only one backup, and one really should have 2. For a second you can get a 2nd usb hdd (easy) or occasionally use DVDs in a DVD writer (so slow). However even one backup is a massive improvement on none.

home cinema

PC will have 3.5mm sockets on back for sound in and out, hifi ditto, other 2 will too altho you would probably need a scart breakout box to convert the scart conns to more useful connectors.
With one device its elementary, you need a lead to go from pc to say hifi for playing, and another the other way to record from radio. Since you've got 4 devices you'll need a switchbox to switch between the 4x input signals. Planning to write something about this some day on wiki.
MP3 players will have a usb connector, it plugs into the pc usb port, no analogue audio link needed.

Yes, but I'd go to the trouble of using wired if poss, its so much more reilable and secure. To go wireless just get a couple of usb wireless NICs (network cards) to link 2 PCs.

No, but you can be sure they'll dl stuff that isnt. Only solution is teach them what the problems are and how to deal with them.
Also - make sure they dont have admin privileges, - that your antivirusis up to date, - firewall active, - and that the PC is left on overnight to virus scan every day.
Oh, also use monthly cwshredder, lavasoft adaware, and spybots+d. DONT touch advertised alternatives, too many are either malware themselves or scams.
And use TotalUninstall 2.35 (not version 3). This scans your system before and after any installing so that you can 100% remove anything unwelcome. Using the uninstall routine that comes with products often doesntt do this.

Anyone online needs a computer forum. There are other newsgroups better suited than this, but this is a start.
Do people think the basic security and backup questions belong on the wiki? I know I've got a lot of diy related data, and wouldnt want to lose it all.
NT
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On Wed, 3 Sep 2008 12:59:26 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@care2.com wrote:

Not quite if you start from "My Documents" it'll back up the stuff stored there and below but that *won't* include OLE's mail database(s). You need to start from c:\documents and settings\<username> but if you copy everything from there you get all the temporary internet files as well which can be a lot and not really required in a backup.
Best to use something like SecondCopy, makes the operation of copying very simple and even better can be automated. I have it run whenever a user logs off a workstation so anything they have that is new or changed from their username directory down (with some exclusions) is backed up without any intervention.
Be aware that even then some user data might still be missed. My camera software dumps the images in a directory structure in program files.

User data is far more valuable than the system settings. If you lose the HD you'll be reinstalling the OS anyway, may as well keep it clean and fresh rather than dump all manner of garbage from the old system on it. Of course if you have highly customised the user interface you might not want to have to go through all the changes manually again, a good reason for just running with the defaults or just one or two changes.

Well worth mentioning even if 25,000hrs is nearly three years. Some are also limited by the number of spin up/downs they can take.

Very much so and these days with memory sticks or external drives and software like SecondCopy there really isn't an excuse for not have at least one up to date backup copy of your data.

The basics and pointers to other resources is probably a good idea but not much more than a page on each of backup and virus/adware protection.
--
Cheers
Dave.




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wrote:

Hard drives where 50% of them were dead after 3 years would be horrendously unreliable. 50% dead in 6 years is pretty bad. That means almost 10% die each year.

I'm inclined to agree. Although its not whacking a nail in, PC stored info is a significant part of diy projects these days, imho.
NT
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On Wed, 3 Sep 2008 18:08:14 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@care2.com wrote:

Those figures are a bit OTT but take a look at the spec of notebook/laptop type drives they really aren't rated anything like a desktop one. Always assuming you can find the details on the laptop drives...
On the Segate site desktop drives have life given in hours (around 700,000) and annual failure rate ( around 0.3%), the Momentus specs just have the failure rate (>0.6%) the Notebook range don't mention life at all.

Certainly on the larger projects even if it's only letters to contractors, BCO, planning etc.
--
Cheers
Dave.




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...

Failures are not linear. They follow a bathtub curve, with high levels of initial failures, which should be caught by soak tests on hard drives, followed by a long period of constant, usually very low, failure rates and ending with a steep rise in the rate of failures. Mind you, Mean Time Between Failures is not always a guide to expected life. For example, the MTBF of a 30 year old human in a developed country is in the order of several centuries.
Colin Bignell
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