Mac classes – January ’10

Happy New Year everyone! I trust you all had a warm and happy holiday season.

Mac class news for the month:

This month, the regular FREE “Overview of Mac OS X” class returns to our regular schedule of the last Wednesday of the month, from 5-7 p.m. This month’s class will take place on Wednesday, January 27th. These overview classes are held in the computer lab at the Ridgway Library. There are only eight seats available, and this year the Library has asked that I handle the sign ups, so give me a call at 970-417-8434 if you’d like to attend (and be aware that first-timers take priority over anyone who has taken the class before, but there are often openings for repeaters).

There are six Macs in the computer lab, so only two of the eight attendees need their own laptops. This class is beginner-oriented, but we cover some different things every month; repeat attendees are encouraged (when there’s room)!

I’m offering two other classes this month. [And I’m going to start offering the “focused” classes on Saturdays, to allow for more folks to attend.] So, on Saturday, January 16th, from 10 a.m. to noon, I will be covering iPhoto. This class will be held in the small meeting room at Ridgway Town Hall.

Also, on Saturday, January 30th, from 10 a.m. to noon, I will be covering iTunes and your iPod/iPhone. This class will also be held in the small meeting room at Ridgway Town Hall.

Both of these classes are open to drop-ins, with no sign-up necessary…

“Disc” vs. “Disk”?

Who knew? Apple actually has a Knowledge Base article that addresses the distinction:

For those too lazy (or busy) to go and read it, the difference essentially boils down to this: “disc” refers to optical meda such as CD’s and DVD’s, and “disk” refers to magnetic media such as floppies and the hard drive in your computer…
If you’re wondering how widespread that distinction is held, I checked, and Wikipedia concurs (in the technological realm anyway).
You learn something new every day, if you’re open to it…

Long time no blog…

Greetings fellow Mac-enthusiasts!
I’m amazed that it’s been almost a year since I last posted a blog update… Just goes to show you how busy I’ve been! Anyway, I plan to make time for some new updates in the near future. I have quite a few interesting tidbits saved up to post, and the short, dark days of winter are upon us, so I should be able to find more time to post. [Yeah, riiiiigght; I hear some of you saying…] 😉
Just for a teaser, I’d like to share a link to a site I stumbled onto not too long ago
. It’s one of the most comprehensive repositories of keyboard shortcuts I’ve ever seen. This guy not only documents all the usual tried-and-true favorites, he’s also gathered all of the most obscure and rarely seen shortcuts, many of which can be indispensible when you find yourself in a bind… So, here is Dan Rodney’s:
…here’s an example from his site; a Guide to the Mac’s Menu Symbols:
He’s really done an amazing job there… Enjoy. And don’t forget to check out the rest of his site. Dan is quite an accomplished guy, with lots of talents to share. Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll try and look him up when we go to NYC at Thanksgiving to visit our daughters (who’re both in college there now…)!
That’s it for now, until next time, happy computing…

Yasu (Yet Another System Utility): a user guide

Yasu is my preferred tool for system maintenance and cleanup. You can read more about the technical details behind everything that it does on the author’s website (follow the link in my list of Recommended Software at right). When you first open the software, you’re presented with a confusing conglomeration of checkboxes. Above is a screenshot of how I recommend you configure the software before telling it to proceed.

Just be warned that after you click the OK button and enter your password to allow it to run, it will run all those various tasks, then restart your computer without further warning. Therefore, I recommend you run Yasu at the end of your workday, after quitting all other running programs, so that it can restart your computer without causing any disruption.

I find it sufficient to run the program about once a month to get things back in good working order. If, after your computer restarts following a Yasu session, the machine is still running quite slowly (including seeing lots of “spinning beachball” cursors), then I recommend you give me a call, as your hard drive may be failing. As always, make sure you have a good current backup, if not two or three!! 🙂

My number is 970-417-8434.

Good luck, and happy computing!

iTunes Class Outline & Links; August 28th, 2008

[How far we get depends on time and student’s level of expertise.]


General concept of iTunes
Digital audio formats: compressed (“lossy”) vs. uncompressed (“lossless”)

  • Lossy: MP3, AAC, WMA(Microsoft Windows format)
  • Lossless: AIFF, WAV, “Ogg Vorbis”, etc.

The iTunes interface

Interface components

  • Source list
  • Main window
  • – Progress bar features, “Quick links”
  • View Options, etc.



  • Encoding options
  • CDDB (to get Album/Track info automatically)


  • Playlists/Smart Playlists
  • Folders


iTunes Store

  • Buying/downloading music
  • “ / “ TV shows & Movies
  • Podcasts!



  • Music (& Video for some iPods)
  • Photos/contacts/calendars


Video/audio tutorials on iTunes (and Garageband) at Apple’s site:

Alternative online music sites:

[if you end up signing up for an account with eMusic, would you mind giving me credit as a referral? I think you might need me to send you an invite to do that, so just let me know. Thanks!]

Great site for all music-related information:

Have fun!

iPhoto class; May (and June) ’08

I hope you all enjoyed the class(es)! Here are a few resources for exploring more aspects of digital photography, cameras, etc.

First off, some links:
– Apple’s excellent set of tutorials for all their iLife’08 programs: iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband, iWeb & iDVD.
– Same as above, only for the previous version, iLife’06.
– An excellent all-around resource for digital photographers (heck, for *all* photographers!)
– another excellent all-around resource. Tons of tutorials and how-tos!

Digital camera review/info sites: – (my favorite)

Now that you’ve got a tool-belt full of sites to use to further your knowledge about everything digital-imaging related, it’s time you get out there and start shooting some pictures! And remember, the more you take, the better your odds of getting that once-in-a-lifetime keeper! But also remember to be ruthless when first importing a new batch of photos into iPhoto. There is no better time to delete those images that just aren’t up to snuff, and it will make the chore of managing your images so much easier as time goes on…

Have fun!

Microsoft Word class (better late than never!)

So, I’m only about three months late here; what can I say… I had the best of intentions!

Links to resources related to Microsoft Word, and entire Office suite:
– Microsoft’s “Mactopia” page; Mac-specific resources for their Office software. Check out the “Help and How-To” link at the top of the page, then the Featured Course, and Featured How-To… One downside to this resource is that it’s almost exlusively geared towards the latest version of Office for the Mac, Office 2008. It doesn’t mean you won’t find helpful tips that apply to earlier versions, but you just might have to dig a bit, or be willing to experiment in earlier versions…
– The templates page for Office 2004 (an example of what you can find if you dig a bit at the site linked above). A whole bunch of handy templates for specific purposes that you can use in Office 2004. And who knows, but most of ’em would probably work in the older version (“Office Vx”) as well…

-“Create letterhead templates in Word”, from A handy tutorial for figuring out how to make creative graphic letterheads in Word. It will teach you a lot about using the Header tool as well. [Subscribe to the CreativeTech weekly Tips newsletter as well, it’s a fun graphic-design related resource.]
-“Word:mac”; a “Microsoft Most Valuable Professional” site containing tons of helpful resources. I’m surprised it’s not been updated with info on Office 2008 as of yet, but since most of us probably don’t have it yet either, maybe that’s a good thing!

These are just a few things offered as jumping off points. I hope they help. Let me know if you end up needing more direction, or have specific questions.

Have fun!

Monthly “Overview of Mac OS X” class

This class takes place the Third Thursday of Every Month,
at the Ridgway Library, behind the Town Hall in Ridgway

Mac OS X Class Outline
[How far we get depends on time and student’s level of expertise.]


General overview of computer hardware:

  • RAM (memory)
  • Hard disk
  • Processor
  • Optical drives, etc.
  • Mouse vs. trackball; one-button vs. two-button

Understanding where your files are:

  • Folder hierarchies
  • Understanding the “Open/Save dialog box”
  • General “getting around the system” tips, etc.

Overview of Internet-specific software programs:

Internet Browsers; usage & tips:

  • Safari, Firefox, Camino, etc.
  • Learning to “google”
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Internet safety/security

General email usage & tips:

  • Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Entourage, etc.
  • Quoting, forwards, etc.
  • “To”, “CC” and “BCC” fields, and how to use them

Other possible topics, depending on time and student’s interests:

  • Backing up your data
  • Digital music, iTunes, and iPod/other digital music players
  • How to shop for a new computer
  • Other stuff as needed?

Helpful links

Great sites for general OS X info:

Top-notch source for real help books:

Excellent Mac-oriented electronic books:
[coupon code for 10% off of any of their e-books: CPN31208MUG]

Troubleshooting sites:

Computer shopping sites:

My favorite sites for buying hardware:

Great overall site for reviews of both products and retailers: