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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....

Update: The Septuagenarian Computer Novice And His iMac
November 17th, 1999

Back in the middle of June I wrote a column about a friend whom I called Sam. “Sam” had just received his first computer and was struggling to learn how to use it. You can read all about “Sam” and his quest to learn his computer by reviewing that column. Basically, “Sam” is a retired gentleman in his 70s who was trying to learn to use the new iMac he had received as a Christmas gift. The column included suggestions to help “Sam” become adept with his iMac. Among the things that were holding ‘Sam” back was his inability to type, the fact that he had never, ever used a keyboard of any kind, including a typewriter, and his lack of knowledge about all things internet. At the conclusion of the column I promised to check back with “Sam” periodically and provide an update on his progress a few months down the road.

One of the first things “Sam” did was learn how to download and open things from the internet. That, of course, opened all kinds of new horizons for him. Once he had downloaded and learned how to use Stuffit Expander then he knew how to get and open almost anything he wanted to use. Next he downloaded a program to teach himself how to type effectively. He also learned the basics of using the free CD software that came with his machine.

So, how is he doing and what has he learned to do? The first thing he told me about was using the internet to keep up with news from Arizona where he lived for many, many years. He goes to internet versions of the local newspapers and reads all about his old stomping grounds. “Sam” also has become quite adapt at sending and receiving e-mail. He not only corresponds with the family members who gave him the iMac in the first place, he now has a number of other e-mail friends with whom he corresponds, including me. He noted to me that he wants to be able to forward e-mails and had not figured out how to do it. I will cover that skill elsewhere in this column.

“Sam” reports that he has had some technical problems but that he was able to work them out himself. When I asked him what they were, he reported that he lost his e-mail outbox and part of his inbox but he had found the trouble and fixed it. Aha, do I see self-confidence rearing its head here? Yes indeed. “Sam” was very excited that he had found previously unknown cousins on the internet and now corresponds routinely with them. One last accomplishment that he mentioned was his ability to use and enjoy the CD based software that came with his computer. He and his wife were thoroughly enjoying searching for and trying new recipes from one of the CD based programs. “Sam” feels that his biggest drawback at this point is his inability to type well, but I can tell you from the correspondence that I have received from him that his keyboard skills have increased 10 fold. As he becomes more proficient, he writes longer and more interesting messages. He told me that the two things that help him the most are to “just use the darn thing” and my columns. He has a printed version of all the “how-to” columns and he refers to them when he wants to try something new, such as finding people. “Sam” was able to take a small bit of help and make it, and the computer, work for him.

“Sam” wants to learn how to forward e-mail messages. There is no one simple answer to this because every e-mail program is different. I only know how to use my Eudora Light and Outlook, which I use at work. There are several versions of Eudora and several versions of Outlook alone. That doesn't touch the AOL systems or any of the other myriad available to computer users. However, there are some general suggestions that I can give. The first is to use the “Help” option that comes with your individual program. Many Macintosh help programs are accessed by clicking on an icon featuring a question mark. Some have icons with the word help on them. Users of Mac OS 8.x and above can access the Help pulldown menu on their menu bar. Once your e-mail program is open you can open your help program and ask it to tell you how to attach or forward documents. To do this you may be required to type in a key word, or search an alphabetical listing of options. If your e-mail program is part of your internet server (Netscape, Microsoft Explorer), there will still be a help program available. Don’t be afraid to just try things until you get the information you want. Also remember that you can open the “Find” option found under the “File” pull-down menu and use it to search.

There are actually three different ways that you can send information to someone else as part of your e-mail messages.

The first is to forward a message in its entirety to another person. If I get a question at work that needs to be answered by one of my staff I forward the entire message to the appropriate staff person with a request that they take care of it. I do that by clicking on the “forward” option of my e-mail. For Eudora Light that option is found under a pull-down menu. For Outlook that option is found as a heading at the top of the message. When you choose “Forward” you will get a screen very similar to what you get when you choose “Reply”, only the “send to” box will be empty. You type in the e-mail address of the recipient in the “send to” box and then add any comments you want in the body of the message. When you are finished you click on “Send” just like you would for any other message and the message, with your additional comments, is sent to the new person.

The second method is to cut and paste. If you can’t find the “Forward” options for your e-mail program then you can use this option. Open the e-mail with the information you want to forward. Place the cursor at the beginning of the information and, holding down the mouse button, drag the mouse to the end of the information. When you release the mouse the information will be highlighted. Tell the computer to copy (hold down the Apple key and the C key). At that point your information is being held in the clip board. Next, open a new e-mail message and put in the address of the recipient(s). In the message portion of the document type in any introductory remarks you want and then hit paste (hold down the Apple key and the V key). If you have saved the information properly then it should instantly be pasted into your new document. Actually, this is a good method to use for those who are new to computers. They don’t have to know how to do anything except open your e-mail message. It is also a good method to use when you want to forward on something that has already been to a bizillion people. You can ignore all of the previous recipient names and just copy and paste just the subject matter.

The third method is to make an attachment. You would use an attachment if you are sending a photograph, or a web page, or a web message of some kind. By that I mean that sometimes I get jokes from friends wherein the jokes are animated and have come off the internet. The only way I can forward something like that is to attach it. Attaching it keeps the internet coding intact. As with forwarding, each e-mail system is somewhat different and you should use your “Help” program to figure out how to do it.

One last comment, but this is important. Pretend I am Miss Manners or something. Many people DO NOT LIKE to get jokes and funny stories with their e-mail. They may have already seen what you are sending several times, they may find some portion of the item to be offensive, or they don’t have time to read those kinds of things. In a nutshell, some people find them very annoying. If you send something to someone and they don’t acknowledge it or thank you for sending it, then chances are they don’t want to get any more.

If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.

Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.

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Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.

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