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Computer Users' Group Meeting

January 16, 2003

By way of review of what we covered last year, a booklet of all of the pages from the Computer Users' Group section of our web site was passed around. The booklet was left in the pamphlet rack in the Genealogy Room of the library. Those pages are shown on the Pastfinders web site. Toward the bottom of the page in the right hand column you'll find the Computer Users' Group and a table listing the 6 dates when we met last year. Clicking on them will bring up what we did on that date.

We looked at the Pastfinders web Page and noted that you have to scroll down several times in order to see the whole page. Should we simplify the page so that all of the detail is moved to lower level pages as shown here? Note that none of the links are presently active but just an example. The Pastfinders logo was just a first try but the issue is whether an uncluttered page easier to navigate.

We then looked at three pages as examples of genealogical sources of data that are often overlooked. The first was Maps Maps for insurance, fire protection and tax purposes often showed the location of houses and the name of the owner so you can see where your ancesor lived and who his neighbors were.

Next we looked at what the Computer Users' Group did on January 17, 2002 as an example of how to see what we did in prior meetings. That was a busy night.

Lastly, we looked at free books. Some day maybe all out of copyright books will be online. Now, thanks mostly to universities, many books are available for downloading. Hand held computers. laptops and even desktop computers can be used to read although the hand helds most nearly conform to the book format we're used to with hard copy. The Making of America includes many speeches made at town anniversaries and often invokes names and testimonials to leading citizens. Perhaps an ancestor. The good news is that you can search all 8500 books and 50,000 journal articles at once. Try an ancestors and see what you can find.

We then went to Rootsweb. There are dozens of links shown and the only way to find out what they're all about is to check them out. We'll try a few. remember to use your back button to get back to Rootsweb home page after you visit other links--sometimes back, back, back until you get there. One more "back" and you'll come back to this page but you can open a new browser window and use that browser to go to rootsweb and this page will drop into your system tray at the bottom of the page, making it easier to switch back and forth.

Look in the right hand collumn of Rootsweb and find "Free BMD". That is the free Birth, Marriage and Death records of civil registrations for England and Wales from 1837 to 1902 and includes 46,967,429 inique records. Type in a name and a location (district or county). I just used county because I don't know much about districts in England. Note when you get back to Rootsweb that there is also a link to Free Reg. That, when it becomes active will be a link to church registrations.

We then went to visit (at the top of the right column) websites and Rootsweb. And while we didn't do it, you should take a minute to look at the web sites hosted by Rootsweb. Check out the surname listings and see if there' one for your ancestors. we then clicked on United States and from the listing of states that appeared we tried Vermont (because it's one of the best I've seen). On that page we were seeking Windham County and noted that there are two entries, one marked USGW and one marked AHGP. USGW is the site put up by US GenWeb and AHGP is put up by the American History and Genealogical Project. Note that those organizations are listed under Projects Hosted by Rootsweb. lets click on the Windham AHGP link. Then click on the Vermont Logo to get to a welcome page for Windham County. we then clicked on Townshend in the list of Townships. On the page that came up we click on the picture of a fruit basket to see the gazetteer of Vermont section on Townshend. While we didn't do it, clicking on the "Meeting of Propietors and Landowners List" will bring up a listing of all of the original settlers. There's plenty of genealogy and history and hopefully you'll be able to find as much good information about your ancestors where ever they were.

Using the back button a few times took us back to the Welcome to Windham page. At the bottom is a link to AHGP. Click that to see what else they've done. we clicked on Table of States and then selected Florida. Note all the links shown here for future reference and then click on County Selection List and then try Lake County. Note that that page is up for adoption if someone wants to volunteer to take it over. It's only through the effort of volunteers that any of this stuff exists. Look around the site and see waht's there.

After our cruise around the web we brought up a few Windows and Browser tips to make things easier. We'll go a little deeper than we did at the meeting.

With your browser open (and this assumes that you're using Internet Explorer) right click on a blank space on any tool bar at the top of the page. It shows a list of toolbars that you can add. The list may depend on your version on IE and Windows.

With your browser closed (or minimized) right click on the toolbar at the bottom of the Window and then point to Toolbars. You can select which toolbars you want open by clicking on them. So what do they do?

The Links toolbar shows the links that are in the folder "Links" located under "Favorites". Go to Favorites located on the left of the screen (not the one with the star) and then point to the Links Folder. It will show a list of items in your Links Folder. Most of them were put there by Microsoft and you can delete any that you don't want. Slide the mouse over into the list and Right Click on any items that you want to delete and then click on Delete in the menu that pops up. Repeat until you've purged all of the stuff you don't want. When you go to a page that you want to link to, go to Favorites, Add to Favorites, click on links and then on OK. This tool bar can be on both the browser and the bottom of the window, it's most convient to have it on the bottom of the window and you can go to your favorite places without first opening your browser and then going through Favorites and Links or typing in the address.

The Address is the place where you type in the Address of the site you want to visit. It goes on the browser but can also be at the bottom of a window so you can type in an address without opening your browser first. Do what's convenient for you but it takes up space.

The Standard Buttons shows the icons for Back, Stop, Refresh, Home. It goes only on the browser and you can remove it at your peril-the back button may be the most useful button you own.

The Quick Launch toolbar lets you put shortcuts to programs that you may want to start when your Desktop is not visible. You populate it with the shortcuts Googlefrom your desktop by merely pointing to the shortcut on the desktop, clicking once and dragging the icon to the toolbar. Right clickon any item on the toolbar Googleand click Delete to remove it

The Desktop toolbar puts all of the item from your desktop into a toolbar. If you only have a few it may be convenient but it takes up space to view very many of them. The tool bars can be made two or more rows high to squeeze everything in and then can be moved around so you could have one down the right side of the screen. Left click on the clock area and drag it up. drag it left to put it back where it was. point to the top line on the toolbar until you see a two headed arrow. Drag that line up and you will increase the number of rows in the toolbar. Go ahead; play with it--that's how you learn.

You may have other toolbars including a Radio Toolbar. Listen to radio from all over the world. Get Red Sox baseball games. (Note that option died when Major League Baseball sold the Internet rights to all Major League games to Real Player and now you have to pay a yearly subscription to hear baseball games but it's only $12 a year. ESPN gamecasts are still free but it's somewhat like watching paint dry.

There also is a custom toolbar where you can add whatever you want. I couldn't think of anything to add so i didn't try it. let me know if you do.

The only other tip was to check with Microsoft to see if your Windows and Internet explorer are up to date. several viruses and worms last year took advantage of holes in the microsoft software that Microsoft had issued patches for months before the outbreak but people hadn't updated and installed them. They are all free and they can be found here. You'll get a list of updates and you can select any that you want installed. I recommend that all "Critical" updates be installed and select from the others those that you need. if you don't use Windows media player, pass on updates for it.

The group decided they'd like a daytime meeting and tentatively selected Wednesdays at 10. This is only tentative until we check it out with the library and I receive comments from you. The Wednesday before the third Thursday to keep it just after our regular meeting. Click here to email me comments.

The group also wanted to cover digital cameras and importing pictures to a PC. Also requested was a session on scanners. Lets tiy them together with a session on Images and Image processing including inputting images, manipulating, color correcting, repairing emailing and printing.