Computer Users' Group

April 18, 2012

Organizing, storing and retrieving data in a computer is very similar to using a file cabinet for the same purpose. Each drawer can be envisioned to be a hard drive, file separators equivalent to folders that have subfolders, and folders containing items of the same subject but in a computer, they they also may contain subfolders. In XP, for instance, you could consider My Documents a file divider containing multiple folders. You can plan ahead if you know what subjects you might be working on but when a new subject arises, just create a new folder for it. If you choose the archaic method of using paper and pencil to lay out an organization, I won't squeel on you.

Organizing files and folders in Windows XP is rather straight forward. You start with the drive letter for the drive that you want to use. In single hard drive systems, that would be drive C:. The following folders should be created by the system on that drive when you start: My Documents that includes folders called My Pictures and My Music. Note that the My Documents folder may become Owners Documents and another called Shared Documents depending on whether you have shared your files with others. There will also be a Download folder in which to put items that you downoad from the Internet. If your document matches one of these types of documents, use that folder in which to store it; otherwise, create a new folder in the My Documents folder. We'll look at images of the My Computer page and the Owners Documents page from my small Netbook computer that uses Windows XP. Note that the Owners Documents page shows an icon for each item and not a list of items. You can change this by clicking on View and select what you want to view. In Windows 7, it's much more difficult because the options are hidden behind an arrow on the top right of the screen.

Let's take a look at my My Documents folder to see how it's arranged. This is from Windows 7 but what we say will also apply to Win XP. Listed first are all of the file folders that have some kind of documents in them. They should have meaningful names but mine don't always follow that rule. We'll scroll down to the folder Computer Users' Group to see how it is arranged. It has a folder for each month's meeting since about 2008. In each folder we should find the handout in Wordperfect format (WPD) and often other files or links that were used to demonstrate something at that month's presentation. In some cases, I find documents that have nothing to do with the CUG but got stored here accidentally.

Scrolling down further, we find a Genealogy folder. It has a list of surnames that I have worked on. In the Dill folder, there are subfolders for the Nova Scotia Dills and the Donegal, Ireland Dills. So far, however, I have not been able to connect them. Note that not everything is as well organized as I would like; some items should be moved into one or the other folder or a new folder created for things like pictures or they can be sent to the My Pictures folder. What you put into your genealogy folders is an important part of organization. First, links to the documents that you've got that are in a format to be placed on a computer. Second, a name and location for hard copy files that you have stored in a file cabinet or other location. Third should be a listing of all of the places that you've searched for information so that a few years from now you won't travel the same ground. Been there; done that.

Sometimes, files are stored in a folder when they should have gone into a sub-folder. Here's an example in my Genealogy folder; the JPG files. Were they pictures, I would have stored them in My Pictures folder or created a Pictures folder in the subfolder to which they belong. The latter choice is probably the better since it keeps all genealogy related data together in one main folder. These, however are copies of text from a book. They have to do with the Bacon family and I have a Bacon folder. To move them into that folder, select the first image, hold the Shift Key down and select the last image. Now hold the Right Mouse Button down and point to the group of selected images, drag them upwards until the pointer is in the Title area and watch the list of files and folders go by until you reach a folder where the files are to go. Make sure the folder is selected and release the mouse button. In the ensuing menu, select Move Here. Note that by default, the files would have been moved and not copied if I'd used the left mouse button but just to be sure, I use the right mouse button so I can be in charge and not Bill Gates.

In Windows 7, things are much more complicated. As you create an account for yourself, a User account will be created for you. In that you will find a My Documents folder. When you press Start Windows 7, you are presented with a page that lists links to Your Name, Computer, Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, Users and a few other places. Your Name takes you to a User account under your name where you can store all of your data. It includes the folders for My Documents, My Pictures etc. But Windows makes it easy to go there by placing links them in the Library folders, Documents, Pictures etc.

So how do you go about creating new folders? Let's take an example. In XP, open My Documents and at the top of the page, click on File/New and then choose Folder. In Win 7, click on New Folder at the top of the page. Or, you can right click on a blank space and in the subsequent menu, click on New and then Folder. Let's call this folder Genealogy. Open that folder and click on New Folder as before and name this folder your last name. Now you have a place to store data about your family. You can then create a folder for every surname for which you have data. Include the types of data mentioned above. Where there are many documents on a subject, a sub-folder can be useful. Perhaps one called Census Records that you have accumulated. You can include pictures here by creating a Pictures sub-folder. You can repeat this for every surname in your genealogy where you have data to store. For each non-genealogical subject you will be working on, create a folder in My Documents and add as many sub folders as the subject requires. You should note that for every folder that you create, you can Customize it in Windows XP by right clicking on the folder name and selecting Properties and then click on the Customize tab. That will format the folder in a format in which that type of document appears best. Thus, it's best to put pictures into Picture folders or sub-folders rather than leaving them in a Documen formatted folder.

In Windows 7, all of the above applies but there's more to the organization than there was in XP. You can add folders to My Documents folder as above and it will be included in the Documents Library. You can add folders to the My Documents folder but for a major topic, you might consider adding it directly to the Documents Library. You might consider doing that for your Genealogy folder. If your Genealogy folder is in My Documents folder it's already in a library and must be removed to add it as a separate item. Drag it to the C:/ drive and then you can include it in the library. To do that, right click on the file that you want to add, click on Include in Library and select the library. The Documents Library and other libraries are not truly folders in which the data are stored but consist of folders containing links (shortcuts) to other folders. It helps to remember that as you organize your data.

Everything said above also apples to the other libraries so you can organize your pictures the way you want and include them in the Pictures Library.

Where's My Download? First you should establish where you want downloaded files to go. In IE, go to Tools/View Downloads and click on Options at the bottom of the page. Choose where you want downloaded files to go. After a download, you can go to the download folder that you chose and find the file that you downloaded.

In Firefox, click on Tools and then choose in the box provided, where to save the downloaded files. Use Browse to search for the location that you want. Select any other options that you want.

No matter how careful you are about putting the download in the right spot, if you don't remember the name of the file, it makes it hard to find. In the Downloads folder where you think you downloaded it, at the top of the page, click on Date Modified and the file with today's date should appear at the top of the list. If you've downloaded more than one file today, the time of the download also appears so you should be able to determine which file that you want. Perhaps you should write the name down for future reference. Once you've located the file, click on Name at the top of the page to change back to an alphabetized list.

Windows 8. Windows 8 is due to be released toward the end of the year. A Developer's Beta version was released a while back which was only a bare bones edition. Now a Consumer Beta version is available for any who want to test it.

An article in Windows Secrets told how to test drive Win 8 without replacing the Operating System that you are now using by installing a Virtual Computer on your computer in which you can run Windows 8. I found that there are many pitfalls along the way and have not yet succeeded in installing it. Several obstacles were met and overcome but one persistant one remains. When I start the Virtual Computer, I get a message FATAL BOOT ERROR INT18. Althoufh the HELP file is very large and helpful, it knows nothing about INT18.

My first attempt to install it was on my laptop so I could demonstrate it to the group. I got a Not Enough Memory error. And so I off-loaded some items from my hard drive. I got the same error again. Then I remembered something that I explained to the group years ago; the hard drive is Storage, Memory is the RAM that programs run in. My laptop didn't have enough. It could be a lot faster if I do upgrade,

So the installation of Win 8 is on my desktop and before the next CUG, I may upgrade my laptop memory or actually get Win 8 running on my desktop. I suggest that you do not hold your breath.

Many have installed Windows 8 trial version and the reports vary from "I love it" to "I hate it". It has a touch screen interface that makes it more useful to tablet users than desktop users. The user interface is said to be awkward for destop or laptop users. So if you love your tablet or phone with a touch screen, you'll embrace Windows 8. If you are a Point and Click mouse viewer, you may not like it very much. And if your computer doesn't support a touch screen, you're stuck with the rodent.

Here's a view of the Metro Screen which is the start screen. It uses tiles instead of icons and they can represent screens that can be opened to show interactive data for the listed app. You can get to the desktop view but must always start with the Metro screen. Seems like a step backwards.

Soundex Replacement? A possible replacement was developed by Lawrence Phillips because Soundex is only correct about 33% of the time. It was called Metaphone and worked well on English and most American names but was not very good at some European names and a new system called Double Metaphone was developed. You can read about Metphone here and see the 19 steps that go into creating a Metaphone key. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphone . Lawrence Phillips explains some of the problems that people had using the original Metaphone that led to the development of Double Metaphone which you can see here: http://drdobbs.com/184401251?pgno=2 . If you want to try out metaphone on your own name or any other, you can go to this site, http://www.searchforancestors.com/utility/metaphone.php , enter a name and see the metaphone result. Note that after you enter a name and press on Calculate Metaphone Code, you will be taken back to the top of the page and will have to scroll down to see the code that it produced just below your entry. Geni uses metaphone in it's searches, Rootsweb uses it for searching the Surname list, the SSDI and the World Connect Project and many other sites may soon use it.