Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Countdown to First Day of Classes...

The countdown to the first day of classes has begun. Everyone is trying to squeeze everything possible into the last bit of free time of the summer. There is the smell of fresh sharpened pencils in the air and all of those new school clothes are about to be laid out for that first day.

Oh wait…that was when I was in school. Does anyone get excited about back-to-school shopping anymore? The hunt for the best pencils, pens, bags, folders, organizers, etc.? I remember being really particular about hard lead (#3) pencils, college ruled notebook paper, and that new Mead Trapper Keeper because it was more than just a binder as the ad went. The excitement now seems to be over finding the newest laptop or netbook and then the coolest/craziest skin or cover you can find. Have you seen http://www.pimpmynetbook.com/?

All of this back-to-school reflecting made me look for some appropriate songs. I also found one of my favorite Father Guido Sarducci skits. Here’s what I found.

Here is Father Guido's 5-Minute University


Here is Pink Floyd's - We Don't Need No Education


Here is AC/DC's cover of School Days

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

IMPORTANCE OF COMPUTER SKILLS

It is important to understand fundamental information about your desktop or laptop computer as you begin the semester. Once you locate this information, it would be a good idea to write it all in one place in case you need to call the SCC Help Desk or a retail computer store for help. Completing these steps now will help your semester start a little more smoothly.

This information is also part of a presentation that I give to the SCC Returning Learners Club.

THE BASICS

OPERATING SYSTEM VS OFFICE SOFTWARE
Your operating is the engine that runs your programs/applications. When you call the Help Desk, you will likely be asked what operating system you are running. This will be Windows 95, Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 – if you are on a PC.

Your version of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook) is a software application. You may have Office XP, Office 2003, Office 2007, Office 2010. This is something else you may be asked if you call the Help Desk.

If you right-click on Computer or My Computer, you will see basic information about your computer, including the operating system.


RAM VS HARD DRIVE STORAGE

RAM is the memory that is installed on your computer that allows applications to run and that allows multitasking (multiple applications running at the same time). See the illustration above for where you can find that information. This example has 2 GB of RAM.

The Hard Drive size is how much space you have to save documents, spreadsheets, and other files. Your hard drive is measured in GB also, but the number should be significantly larger.

To find the size of your hard drive, click (not right-click) on Computer or My Computer and then right-click on Local Drive C:. From the right-click menu, choose Properties and you will see information similar to that below.

The amount of RAM you have and the size of your hard drive may be other questions you will be asked when calling the Help Desk.


FILE MANAGEMENT

Choose where you are going to store your files – your hard drive, flash drive, SkyDrive (after activating your CougarMail email account).

If you are using a flash drive to carry your work back and forth to campus, then plug your flash drive into your computer at home (this will not work on campus computers because of security settings), right-click on the flash drive, and choose Rename. Then name your flash drive with your own name so that you can easily find it when you use it at SCC. It is much easier to find the drive with the name COMPTON than it is to figure out if your flash drive is F:, G:, H:, or another drive letter.

Organize your files into folders to keep things such as assignments and class notes associated with a particular class. This makes your information easier to access and find. There is no need to add stress by frantically searching for an assignment you know you completed but have no idea where to find it. Go one step further and create a folder for each semester, then a folder for each class in that semester. Here is what that might look like –


MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE

Choose an anti-virus program to keep your computer safe. Viruses can travel through emails, Web sites you visit, and from flash drives (among other things). There are many options for anti-virus programs – from pay options to free options. I have AT&T U-verse, home, and cell phone service. Being an AT&T customer, I am able to get McAfee at no charge from their Web site. If you are an AT&T customer, you should call their customer service number and check to see if this is an option. Another free option that many people use is AVG Free Anti-Virus (http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage). The important thing is to make sure you are covered.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

The SCC Help Desk is a great resource. Though they can’t act as the Geek Squad and solve complex problems, they may be able to walk you through a solution. Their contact information and hours are –

Contact Information
Phone: 636-922-8555
E-mail: scchelpdesk@stchas.edu
Location: LRC 146

Hours
Fall and Spring
Monday-Thursday   7:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday                     7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday                 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Summer
Monday-Thursday   7:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday                     7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Off Semester
Monday-Friday       7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

You can also ask one of your instructors. They may be able to answer quick questions or help with organizing your folders.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Start the Semester Prepared…and Activate Your CougarMail

Whether you are a new or returning student to SCC this semester, make sure you are prepared for the first day of class. Over the summer, the college updated operating system software and Microsoft Office software in all classrooms and labs on campus. We are now running Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 campus wide. If you are taking courses that involve this software, you will want to be prepared. For instance, all of the Microcomputer Applications courses and individual Office application courses will be using Office 2010. If you want to be able to do homework at home, you will need to purchase the 2010 software. If you are not able to do that, there are open labs in the Tech Building, Social Science Building, and Library.

The best deal for the Windows 7 and Office 2010 software is at http://www.ultimatesteal.com/. This site is for students only, so you will need to use your CougarMail address (yourID@my.stchas.edu or any .edu address). If you haven’t set that up yet, it is well worth your time to do so. At this site, you can purchase the Windows 7 upgrade for just $29.99 and the Office 2010 Professional software for $79.95. These purchases are digital downloads; if you want a DVD backup of the software, you will pay just a little extra. Either way, you will want to back up the software in case you need to reinstall. As a reference, the Windows 7 upgrade is $199.99 and Office 2010 Professional is $499.99 at Office Depot. The version is very important, especially if you are taking Microcomputer Applications or any of the individual Office software courses. If you buy the Home and Student or Home and Business versions of Office 2010, you will not get Access. This is a common issue in the Microcomputer Applications course – students do not buy the correct version of Office and are caught off-guard when it comes time to cover the Access chapters. Without the software, you will need to complete homework for those four weeks on campus or somewhere you can use Access 2010.

Another perk of your CougarMail address is access to a 25 gig SkyDrive and Office Live. This is convenient because the SkyDrive is the equivalent of carrying 8 to 10 flash drives; but you do not have to keep up with all of those, worry about leaving them in another computer, or dropping them on the parking lot on the way to class. With Office Live you also have access to the basic features of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint online (along with OneNote). These limited features are not enough to get by without buying the Office 2010 software if, again, you are taking Microcomputer Applications or any of the individual Office application courses; but it is still a handy tool for starting documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can put the finishing touches on them when you get to your own computer or one of the open labs. There is even a SkyDrive option under Save As in Office 2010, so it makes using this resource even easier. And the best part…there is no charge for any of this. You just need to activate your CougarMail.

Here are a few tutorials for using Office Live, the SkyDrive, and a link to help for setting up your SCC CougarMail.