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Updates vs. Upgrades

Your computer probably informs you periodically that you need to update your software. Or is it upgrade your software? Which is it? What is the difference?

Updates and upgrades both offer you newer versions of the software you already own. Where they differ is in how you learn about them, what they cost, what they include, and perhaps whether you should purchase/install them.


  • Example: Version 14.1.2 to Version 14.1.3
  • Cost: Free
  • Might include: bug fixes, minor changes, compatibility and security updates
  • Release notification: your computer informs you when an update is available
  • Install process: download from the developer (usually by a link included with the notification)


  • Example: Word 2007 to Word 2010
  • Cost: Not free
  • Might include: major changes, a whole new look, enhanced functionality
  • Release notification: media advertising, emails from the developer, etc.
  • Install process: purchase and download online or purchase disks and install manually

Should you install updates and purchase/install upgrades? “Yes” for updates. “Eventually” for upgrades.

I recommend that you always install free updates to your software (this includes updates to your iPad and smartphone apps as well). Why not have the best and safest version of your programs?

As for upgrades, you must decide whether you are ready for a change. Upgrades can look vastly different from the version you are used to; you will need to be patient as you acclimate. I find the online videos that introduce the new look and features of an upgrade to be very informative. They can help you decide if you are ready to upgrade.

Even if you choose not to purchase/install an upgrade when it is first released, you should plan to do so eventually. Don’t be too many versions behind the most current release.

I hope this helps.

Just the Fax, Ma’am

Is faxing obsolete? I think so. We really don’t need it anymore.

It is more efficient to scan a document and attach it to an email it than to fax it. It is certainly more convenient to receive a document attached to an email wherever you are than it is to have to be home to receive a fax.

What else?


  • increases the price of the “all-in-one” printer
  • requires a dedicated phone line (or coordination between one phone line and your voice mail)
  • demands you know/store a unique fax number or call the recipient to alert him/her it’s coming
  • uses paper (including a cover sheet)
  • leaves you with a hard copy that you may or may not have needed to print

Scanning/Emailing …

  • requires scanning a document (single and multiple pages)
  • requires attaching the document to an email
  • requires downloading, saving, and opening an attachment

If you are ready to purchase a new printer, you may consider buying one without the fax function. If you have a dedicated fax line, you may no longer need it.

And, of course, the ever-increasing number of forms that you can download from the internet — and fill out and send back electronically — probably precludes the need to fax much at all anymore.

The scanning/attaching option saves money and paper and is often more convenient.

Consider it.

Lights, Camera, Action!

We all know the fun of watching home movies. Well, the ones of our “homes” anyway.

It’s never been easier to create and share home movies than it is now, thanks to user-friendly programs like iMovie (Mac) and Windows Movie Maker (Windows).

Think videos, pictures, background music, text, and even voice overs … all at your fingertips. Of course, you don’t need all of these components to make a fun movie, but they are all available.

  • Videos: take them with your digital camera, phone, or designated video camera.
  • Pictures: take them with your digital camera, phone, or scan them from hard copies.
  • Background Music: purchase songs from iTunes (or other internet-based music stores) or upload them from a CD.
  • Text: introduce “chapters” or events with customizable text right in the movie software.
  • Voice Overs: speak directly into your computer’s internal microphone — or into an external mike you plug in — and create a unique voice file.

Once you have the “pieces” in useable formats, open the movie program and insert the components. From within iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, you can move images into the desired order, trim videos as necessary, designate transitions between sections, insert text, and fade in and out the music and narration as appropriate.

Once your movie is complete, you will need to save it to a format others can enjoy: a dvd, a file to upload to YouTube, or a file you can email (be careful: all but the shortest movies are too big to email).

Most computers have one of these basic movie-making programs. Before you need to make a movie, learn to use the features in your program so you will be ready when a special event arises.

Happy directing!

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