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A Tech Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving week and, for many, that means either hosting or traveling.

Don’t forget how valuable your computers and mobile devices can be over the holiday:

  • Set the timer on your smartphone to make sure nothing over-cooks in the kitchen
  • Consult your to-do list to be sure you don’t forget anything
  • Search the internet for traditional and non-traditional recipes
  • Call or video chat with those in your family who won’t be at dinner
  • Tap your sports app to check the scores of the games you are not watching
  • Check your weather app to be sure you pack the right clothes
  • Follow your map program to help you get where you are going
  • Play background music from your music library or music app during dinner
  • Download the “Map My Walk” app to get moving before — and especially after — the big meal.
  • Rent a DVD or stream a movie to watch after dinner

and of course,

  • Use your camera to take pictures, pictures, and more pictures!

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Hidden Ribbon

The Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) feature a toolbar of “tabs” and “ribbons” across the top of the screen. In each ribbon you’ll find the tools you need to format your document. If the ribbon — with all of its tools — disappears, you might panic.

The disappearing ribbon is not an anomaly; Microsoft includes the option to hide the ribbon to free up screen space. Nice if you want it hidden; scary if you hide it by mistake and can’t get it back.

Here’s the secret:

On a Windows computer: double-click on any tab to hide the ribbon and double-click on any tab to reveal it. (If you only single click on a tab when the ribbon is hidden, the ribbon will appear for one command but disappear again when you resume typing).

On a Mac Computer: click once on the open tab to hide the ribbon and click once on any tab to reveal it.

It’s easy to hide the ribbon (even if by mistake); thank goodness it’s just as easy to get it back. Once you know how.

A PICNIC?

There’s an old joke in the “computer help desk” world that describes a computer problem as a PICNIC: “Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.” Yeah, I know. Hilarious.

Although, to be fair, PICNIC can also be “Problem In Computer, Not In Chair” — that is, a computer problem not caused by the operator’s error.

That’s the one I encountered a lot this week.

There was a power outage/surge that severely compromised one computer. And a printer that wasn’t compatible with Windows 10. There was a software purchase that said “compatible with Mac 10.10.0,” but didn’t mention that it wasn’t compatible with anything before 10.10.0. And there was the computer that just died unexpectedly and had to be replaced — and then the replacement computer that wouldn’t print at all!

None of these were “Problem In Chair.” Sadly though, the “chairs” still suffered.

What to do?

  • Be sure you back up your files/folders/pictures somewhere (external hard drive, off site company, etc.) … just in case.
  • Check to see if your software and other hardware is compatible with a new operating system before you upgrade. Some older programs and devices may just not work, but others may need to be updated too. Use your favorite search engine to look up the program or device in relation to the new operating system and read what others have to say.

These problems are annoying and sometimes costly, and though they are not your fault, I’m sure that doesn’t make you feel any better.

To Those Who Wait

The expression “good things come to those who wait” sometimes applies to online shoppers. Try this:

  • Sign in to and browse around your favorite online store (create a free account if you don’t have one)
  • Put some item(s) in the store’s “shopping cart”
  • Click “checkout,” but don’t place the order
  • Close the browser window and wait … a day or so
  • Check your inbox for an email from the store, often with a coupon incentive to purchase

Really? Sometimes.

Some stores do this. If you can wait for the email, you might get the item(s) at a discount or get free and/or expedited shipping.

The following article (updated in June 2015) lists some stores that send coupon emails:

Abandon Shopping Cart: 17 Online Retailers Who’ll Bait You Back with a Coupon

(Disclaimer: I cannot guarantee that the stores listed in the article still send coupons.)

Happy shopping and waiting!