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I cannot remember the last time that I answered the phone without knowing who was calling, or at least who it might be. Caller ID is one of the greatest savers of time and aggravation ever. Yet, I am amazed by the number of people who still answer the phone without looking first to see who it is.

To see who is calling on your land line, you need a phone that has the display window as well as the service from the phone company that shares the caller’s information. Then, every time the phone rings, you will see the name of the caller, or at least the number of the person calling you.

On your smart phone, the name of the person calling you will display if you have that person stored in the contact list. If you do not have the caller in your list, you will see the caller’s phone number instead.

You probably know this already.

But if you don’t, here’s some advice on how to make the most of this technology:

  • Don’t answer the phone unless you know who it is and you wish to talk to that person at that moment. If the caller wants you, he/she will leave a message and you can call back.
  • Put more friends, family members, and colleagues in your cell phone contact list. It doesn’t cost anything to store their numbers and when they call, you will know who it is.

Think of the callers that Caller ID permits you to avoid: people trying to sell you something, asking for a donation, confirming an appointment, or soliciting your vote. Many of these callers will not leave a message if you don’t answer.

Now we’re talkin’…

New Apple Software

Last Wednesday, Apple released iOS 7, an update to the iPad and iPhone operating systems. It gives your machine a new look and some new features. And it’s free. iOS7

To read about the new features (there’s a video, too!), click this link to the Apple website:

Some software update notes:

  • You do not have to install this update right now; your current system will continue to work the way it is. If you are unsure about updating your operating system, look at a friend’s updated device to see if you like the new look and new features.
  • Before you update, back up your device to your computer (through iTunes) or to iCloud.
  • Copy photos that are on your device to your computer. (Your photos should all still be on your device after the update; this is just a precaution).
  • The update is a two-part process: downloading the software could take up to an hour and installing could take 30 minutes. You can use your device while the update is downloading (although you may be slowing it down), but once the install begins, the screen goes black and you must wait to use it.
  • Once the installation is finished, there are a few more steps: connect to your wireless network, enter your Apple ID password, etc.
  • When your home screen appears, you might find that some of your icons have been rearranged and some settings have been changed (time zone, rotation lock, etc.). There are easy fixes for these.

The new look and some of the new/changed features take some getting used to, but overall I think it’s a nice improvement.

To update the software in your device, go to:

Settings > General > Software Update > Download and Install.

(Note: This software update is not the same as the new iPhones that went on sale on Friday. These new phones have this new iOS7 operating system preinstalled, but the new 5s phones also have hardware improvements — better camera, faster processor, and fingerprint recognition — that are not part of the software update).

Data Mining

In an ITmail I wrote last year, I recommended that you password-protect your wireless network to be sure your neighbors purchase their own wireless access. null

It seems I was a little shortsighted; it’s not just your neighbors you need to guard against.

Last week a New York Times article reported a class action suit against Google that alleges that as Google vehicles drove down streets taking pictures of houses for their map programs, they were also tapping into unsecured wireless networks and harvesting data.

(Click this link to read the article: )

If your wireless network is still not password-protected, please consider adding a password.

To determine if your wireless network is password-protected, use any wireless device to locate your network (usually under “settings”). If there is a “lock” symbol next to the name of the network, or you need to enter a password to join the network, your network is secured. If there is no “lock” symbol or you can join with no password, your network is unsecured. (If your network is secured but your device is connected to it, you already entered a password at one time and your device remembers it, even if you don’t).

If you wish to add a password to an unsecured network, look up the make/model of your router on the internet (yes, even Google will produce search results that tell you how to do it, but perhaps you prefer to use another search engine?) and follow the instructions.

And make the password simple, one that you won’t mind sharing with your house guests.

Are You Sitting Down?

Are you sitting down?

Is your posture good? Have you been in this position for hours? Is the screen bright enough? Are you squinting at the print?

Please take a few seconds to assess your ergonomic surroundings.

The more attached we are to our computer devices, the more time we spend using them in positions that can cause headaches, backaches, eye strain, sore muscles, and carpal tunnel syndrome, to name a few problems.

Remember when you curled up with that riveting e-book and then strained to un-curl?

Here are a few reminders to stay healthy while computing:

  • Take frequent breaks; stretch and walk around for a few minutes
  • Be aware of the changing light around you and change with it
  • Adjust your chair height, desktop height, keyboard position, and /or monitor angle to create optimum long term comfort
  • Adjust the screen magnification (or get magnifying glasses) to ease eye strain
  • Prop up your laptop, tablet, or smartphone if you are reading in bed or on the couch
  • When not at home, make a footrest or back support out of whatever is available

Stay comfortable, my friends!

Leading Zeros

Have you ever tried to enter a number that begins with zero in an Excel spreadsheet? It seems impossible; the leading zero always disappears.

Perhaps this does not matter. But if you are entering a zip code, a social security number, or a phone number — or you just need a consistent number of digits — the leading zero is crucial.

Here’s how you get the zero to stay:

  • Highlight the cells, rows, columns, or areas that need leading zeros (the cells can be blank or already have your numbers in them)
  • Right-click on the area (control-click on a Mac)
  • Click “Format Cells”
    • For zip codes, phone numbers, or social security numbers, click “Special” and choose the appropriate format.
    • For all other instances, choose “Custom.” Click the “0” (the second option in the list) and, in the cell labeled “type,” enter one zero for each digit you want in your cell: for a four digit number to appear in your cell, type “0000.”

Click “OK.”

Note that if you just put a zero in a cell by itself, it will stay there. But, if you put any other number in the cell after it, the zero will disappear unless you change the format to include the leading zeros.

I hope this saves you frustration!

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