Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best Use of a Digital Camera

Plugging in...

A couple years ago, October 2007 to be precise, the Tutor had the good fortune and good health to visit Nepal, trekking and mountain climbing. But that's not what this tale is about.

The Tutor had a request to bring back some japa mala beads. What are they, you ask? A Japa mala or mala (Sanskrit:माला; mālā, meaning garland) is a set of prayer beads commonly used by Hindus and Buddhists, usually made from 108 beads, though other numbers, usually divisible by 9, are also used. Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity. This practice is known in Sanskrit as japa.

The tale is also not really about the beads, so much as the journey to purchase the beads. So there the Tutor sat in a small jewelry shop at the Yak and Yeti hotel in Katmandu about 7:00pm. The informative shopkeeper was educating the Tutor in all things japa mala and had several expensive japa mala strands of beads strewn across the counter when the power went out. It was pitch dark, black as tar, impossible to see anything.

The quick-thinking Tutor, whipped out her digital camera and used the light from the LCD screen to assist the shopkeeper in retrieving the beads and returning them to their secured case. The Tutor thanked the shopkeeper and with camera in hand, led herself out and up the stairwell to her hotel room, guided by the LCD light. The hotel room had candles and matches, so the handy digital Canon Powershot G was turned off.

The Tutor did purchase several strands of japa mala beads, as requested, and brought them back to the states where they are either in use and revered daily, or tucked away in a drawer, now forgotten.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is there power, and is it turned on?


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Can One Click an Ink?

Plugging in...

What is the difference between INK and LINK? Yes, smarty pants, the answer is the letter L. And doesn't that seem like such and easy answer? It wasn't to a user who wasn't carefully reading a message on their AOL email screen.

Good old AOL has a safety/security feature that turns OFF all clickable links in received emails so the reader won't get tricked into going to malicious websites (referred to as phishing). AOL does this on purpose, but doesn't broadcast it in letters larger than 8 points (tiny, tiny). So a recent Tutoree received an email with a clickable link to some mouth-watering recipes, except the link wouldn't go anywhere. BUT, the click resulted in a message in the middle of the screen...

After many frustrating attempts, a Tutor call was made but the Tutor had difficulty understanding the nature of the error: images and ink have been deactivated for your safety, blah, blah, blah. Since the Tutor couldn't make heads or tales of why an INK message would appear when clicking a link in an email, she made a visit.

As with many visits, the problem was apparent as soon as the Tutor witnessed the user in action. The message read LINK, not INK. And the fog lifted. The AOL message also stated: click above to activate clickable images and links. Clicking above meant hunting for the miniscule type in the right corner, admist other textual messages. If one clicked "above", the links would have been activated, which just means they would work, darn it all! The lesson? Slow down and read. Reading is fundamental. You've heard it, read it in this blog before, and now you're reading it again.

The Tutor got proactive and changed the AOL settings to always allow images and links to be active within emails. Phew. Those mouth-watering recipes sure worked up the Tutor's appetite.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is it activated, and is it turned on?


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Plugging in...

There's a new acronym in town: WFE

The Tutor couldn't find it in a dictionary, online or othewise. This surprising new addition to the computer world famous for acronyms came from a client. A new laptop was ordered and received. The Tutor appointment made. The Tutor showed up for the appointment and the laptop was still sealed in the box.

When the Tutor expressed surprise over the new toy being still ensconced in cardboard and packing tape, the client said "it's WFE".

That cleared it right up - NOT! The client then explained WFE meant "waiting for elaine", who is also known as The Computor Tutor.

Who knew?

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is it WFE, and is it turned on?


Friday, September 4, 2009

The UP side of grading or dating

Plugging in...

Security seems to be all the rage today, home, business AND computers. But in trying to keep current with an internet security program, a Tutor client ran into some trouble with what should have been easy-peasy.

Security suites usually have an annual renewal fee. And most security suite vendors hope you will buy their newest security product, not just renew the one you have. It all seems very easy and innocent when the pop up box asks one to renew.

In this particular case, the client opted to UPgrade which means to buy the latest security suite. The vendor website failed to provide a tiny piece of information that would have allowed the client to UPgrade without a Tutor intervention. Seems the client's existing suite was too OLD to UPgrade and it required an uninstall by the client before downloading and installing the UPgrade.

But it gets worse (doesn't it always get worse before it gets better?). The failed UPgrade not only caused the old security suite to no longer work BUT, get this, it prevented any internet access. Stumped, the Tutor was called and it took the Tutor some time to find the problem because the error messages were somewhat, ahem, irrelevant to the situation.

Can you say confusing? UPgrading is getting a new version of a software or hardware product designed to replace an older version of the same product. UPdating means keeping the existing software or hardware and receiving small changes to it on a regular basis.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, it is and upgrade or an update, and is it turned on?