Computer Tips

Multiple Browsers

Most people searching or using the web open their browser and type in an address. When they want to visit another site they type in a new address, going to a new site and effectively closing the old site. But there's a better way if you want access to both sites. Open a second browser. In general, you can open an unlimited number of browsers and view them sequentially or side by side. When done sequentially, the active browser and web site occupy the screen and the inactive browser and web site lie at the bottom in the system tray waiting to be clicked on to swap places with the active browser. For side by side comparisons, use the RESTORE button (overlapping rectangles) in the upper right to restore each browser to a reduced size, use the mouse to point to the title bar and drag each browser into the position that you want and then use the mouse to drag the top and side edges to be the size that you want. The title bar tells which browser is active and clicking in the inactive browser's area will activate it.

Microsoft Updates

Microsoft offers to check over your system and determine if there are any critical or other updates that your computer should have. Critical updates patch the security holes in Microsoft's software. For Windows updates, go to windowsupdate. The site will scan your system and determine in a prioritized order what updates that you need. Select those that you want (they're free) by placing a checkmark next to each item and then download them all at once. They will be downloaded and installed in a relatively painless operation. The security updates should be downloaded by everyone.

Taking Notes

When you sit down to do genealogy (or any other research), first open notepad and enter .LOG (that's dotLOG in caps). Then save the file with a title appropriate to the research that you're doing such as Genealogy Notes. Then open the program that you were going to work with and proceed as you normally would. When you need to note something, cut and paste a URL, e-mail address or block of text, click on Notepad and write a note or copy something into it. Annotate it as necessary (you'll want to know where you found that information when you read your notes next year) and then return to your work by clicking your program's name in the system tray. Each time you have to make a note, pop up the notepad and create your annotation. When you are done with your session, save the notepad file (you've already named it). The next time you open it, you'll find that at the end of your previous day's notations, Notepad had entered the time and date due to the inclusion of the .LOG heading. You can use any word processor instead of notepad (but the .LOG won't work). It's useful to save your file in the default directory so that you don't have to drill down too far to find your note file.

Viruses and Hoaxes

People seem to panic when they get a virus alert from a friend that's been forwarded dozens of times and says "Send this to everyone that you know". The first thing that they do is forward it to everyone in their address book. Before you pass that stuff on, CHECK IT OUT. And it will keep you from passing on stuff that has been a proven hoax over and over again. Some messages even list the authorative site that supposedly put out the alert but when that link is clicked on, the site has no reference to the virus or it will tell you that it is a hoax. The easiest way to find out is to just type "hoax" into a search engine such as Google and search for the allegeded virus on one of the sites listed. But just to make it even easier, I'll list a few of the good ones here.

If everyone would just take a minute to "just check it out", these hoaxes and urban legends would become a thing of the past. When you forward something, you're assuming the responsibility for the accuracy of the contents. Your friends didn't get it from the originator; they got it from YOU. So be responsible--it's so easy.

Free Photo Editors

If you have a digital camera or a scanner you probably use the photo editor that came with it. These LE versions of a major program may be all that you need to process the images that you have created. Not all of these programs do everything and some are better at some things than at others. Unless you've worked with a full version of a program, you'll never know what features your limited program lacks. If you've got the $600 that Photo Shop costs, by all means spring for it. Even Photo Shop Elements (a stripped down version of Photo Shop) for $100 has most of photo Shop's features. But there are two free programs that do a lot that many "lite" programs don't do. They're IfraView and Ulead's Photo Explorer.


This program was created by Ifra Skiljan, a graduate of the Vienna University of Technology. There are many features to this program but the two that I like most are the ability to set thumbnail sizes and the slide show program.

Thumbnail Sizes

When the program opens you can click on FILE and select THUMBNAILS. That opens a dialog box wherein you can select the folder that contains that photos you want to view. Then a series of thumbnails is created and double clicking on any will open that image for processing. In that dialog box there is a menu item caled THUMBNAIL OPTIONS. With that you can set thumbnail sizes from 50x50 to 300x300 pixels in 7 steps (8 settings).. At 50x50 you can see most if not all of the images in your folder and at 300x300 you can see enough detail to know whether you should open it and correct it. This is more flexibility than most programs.

Slide Show

You can select SLIDESHOW instead of THUMBNAILS and a dialog box opens where you can open the folder containing the images for your slide show are. Select ALL IMAGES or whichever ones you want and they will appear sequentially in full screen mode. Go through once or repeat as often as wanted.

Return to Pastfinders Home Page