28 February 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 Review - Part 2

Last week I posted about the new way to buy Office 2013.  If you missed it you can read it here.

Today I'm going to let you know about the main changes to Office 2013 as against the last version – 2010.  The features below are common to all the Office programs.  My next posts will detail the changes specific to the main three – Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Start Screens

Previous versions of Office programs started with a blank document ready to create; in Office 2013 each program has a colour-coded start screen—blue for Word, green for Excel, orange for PowerPoint, green for Publisher.

These start screens are where you can create a blank document, select a template, search online for templates, search for a document on SkyDrive, or open a recent document. 


Working with the Cloud

Office 2013 is designed to work easily with the cloud—specifically Microsoft’s SkyDrive.   If you use SkyDrive, your account details will appear in the top left corner of each of the program’s screens, as well as on their start screens.  When you save a document, worksheet, or presentation, the default option is to save to your SkyDrive account, but you can choose to save it to your computer.

If you use Dropbox, you’ll be familiar with using cloud based storage.  SkyDrive works in exactly the same way by creating a ‘virtual’ folder on your computer just like Dropbox.  The big benefit with SkyDrive over Dropbox is the amount of storage.  A standard account with SkyDrive gives you 7GB of free storage.  When you subscribe to Office 365 you get an extra 20GB.

If you do save your Office documents on SkyDrive, you’ll be able to access them from any device, via Office 2013 on a PC or tablet, or via the WebApps.  Another great feature if you are switching between devices, is that Word, Excel and PowerPoint will save the last location where you were working before you closed the program - down to the letter, cell, or image.  This means you can be editing a document on your computer at work, and you can open that same document on your tablet or computer at home, and the exact position you were at will be shown so you can pick up exactly where you left off. 


Work with a touchscreen

Office 2013 gives you the option of easily switching between using your mouse or a touchscreen.  The touch mode spreads the commands out so that it’s easier to use with your fingers on a touch screen. 

Free Trial

If you’d like to try Office 2013 free for one month, click here.  At the end of the month you can continue with a subscription of $12 each month, or you can just cancel the trial at the end of the month without cost.   Also, the trial won’t affect any earlier versions of Office on your computer. 

My next post in this series will be about the new features of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

If you’re already using Office 2013, or if you give the trial a go, please leave me a comment on your opinion of the programs.

25 February 2013

Mac tip - lock your screen

If you have kiddies around when you’re working at home you know how risky it is to leave your computer unattended – an important report can be ‘edited’ or the website you've finally found disappears!  It can be a hassle to put your Mac to sleep if you need to leave your desk for a minute, and then wake it up again when you come back, but there is a quicker way; by setting up a keyboard shortcut that shows your Mac’s login screen without logging you out and without closing anything you are working on.   It takes just a few minutes to set up:

Lock Screen Service

  1. Launch Automator from your Applications folder.
  2. Select “Service” as the document type.
  3. Select “Utilities” from the list on the left, then double-click “Run Shell Script” in the next column.

  1. On the top-right side of the screen, adjust the drop-down menus so the statement reads: “Service receives [no input] in [any application]“
  2. Copy the following command into the large text box that appears:
/System/Library/CoreServices/"Menu Extras"/User.menu/Contents/Resources/CGSession -suspend

6.  Go to File > Save and name your service “Lock Screen”.  Once saved, you can now quit Automator.

Lock Screen Keyboard Shortcut

  1. Open System Preferences and go to the Keyboard pane.
  2. Next, select the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab.  From the list on the left, select “Application Shortcuts”.  Click on the plus (+) button below to add your new shortcut.
  3. In the dialog box leave “All Applications” selected in the first menu.  Enter “Lock Screen” as the Menu Title.  This has to be exactly the same name you entered when saving the service in Automator.  Finally, enter your keyboard shortcut.  You need to choose a combination of keys - Command+Shift+L is one that isn’t used for anything else so it’s a good choice.

4. Click Add.

Now when you press your keyboard shortcut (Command+Shift+L), the Mac login screen will immediately be displayed.  You’re actually still logged in and anything that is working in the background will continue (like a large download).  No one will be able to access your screen until you enter your password. When you do, everything on your desktop will be there just as you left it.

If you like this tip, you'll find lots more on my Facebook Page.  Every morning there is another operating system tip, not just for Macs, but Windows as well.

19 February 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 Review - Part 1

Two weeks ago Microsoft released the latest version of its office suite – Office 2013.  This week I'm going to review what’s new in the new version. 

The first change to older versions of Office is how you buy it.  In the past you would buy the version of Office you wanted, and use the disk to install it on up to three PCs.  Buying Office 2013 is a little different.  You can still buy the version you want of Office in the box, but all that’s inside is a number (the product key) which you use to activate the software  you download from the Microsoft website, and it’s now only for one PC. 

What versions can you buy? 

Office Home & Student 2013 $128 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)
Office Home & Business 2013 $258 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook)
Office Professional 2013 $542 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Publisher)
* Prices from Officeworks

If you need to use Office on a number of PCs – especially if your family has more than one computer – there’s a great new alternative.  Office 365 is a subscription service where you pay $99 per year (for Office Home Premium) and you can load Office on up to five computers.   If you are a university or TAFE student you get an even better deal, at $98 for a four year subscription on two computers.

An Office 365 subscription gives you the full Office suite, not just the basics.  That would normally cost you $542 for Office Professional for just one computer installation. 

As well as having Office 2013 on your computer  you also get 'Office on Demand’ which gives you access to full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Publisher on web-connected PCs running Windows 7 or 8; as well as 27GB of cloud storage on Microsoft’s SkyDrive. You just log in to Office.com with your Microsoft account (same as for SkyDrive, Xbox Live, Outlook.com or other Microsoft service) and you’ll have access to Office just as if it were on your computer, with any documents you create stored on SkyDrive.   If you also save the Office documents you create on your computer to SkyDrive you’ll have access to all your files wherever you have an internet-connected PC. 

Apple Mac users haven’t been left out.  You can also subscribe to Office 365 which gives you Office 2011 for Mac (until a new version is released) and access to the Office Web Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), but it doesn't give you Office on Demand.  Office Web Apps are cut down versions that run in your internet browser, so they don’t have all the features of the full versions, but they are still enough to allow you to access and edit Office files when away from your Mac.  If you have both Windows and Mac computers, the one Office 365 subscription is all you need for both.

If you have a Windows XP or Vista PC, unfortunately you won't be able to run Office 2013. 

Why did I choose Office 365?  I have a Windows 7 laptop running Office Professional, our family has a Windows 7 desktop also running Office Professional, and a new laptop with Office Professional is on the list of requirements for the school my son will be attending next year.  In the past that would have just been one Office Professional purchase.  Now it means paying 3 x $542 – no way!  For $99 a year I can load Office Professional 2013 on all three computers.  Best of all, when the next version of Office is released in a few years, I will get it on the same subscription.  

My next post will about the new features of Office 2013.

15 February 2013

Nostalgia for games of my youth

I fondly remember Pacman.  A friend and I would happily spend hours seated on either side of a game console at our local bowling club chasing those dots around the screen.  30 or so years ago, Space Invaders was the biggest game around – that was my husband’s favourite.  What was yours?  Do you feel nostalgia for the games of your youth?     

Look what I've found….


Lite version for iPhone, iPod and iPad - Free
Full version for iPad $2.99 (special price until 19 Feb only, normally $5.49)
Android $3.95


Android – Free
Coming soon to iOS
Do you miss your virtual pet from the 90s? 
Don’t forget to feed it!

Air Hockey

Air Hockey Gold for iPhone and iPad - Free
Air Hockey Deluxe for Android - Free

Space Invaders

By Taito – the original makers of Space Invaders
Full version for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch  $5.49 
(if you have an iPad get Space Invaders HD – same price)

There is also a free version (Lite) – Space Invaders Infinity Gene Lite – which is based on the PS3/XBOX360 game.

The full version is a bit expensive on Android at $7.52, but Space Invaders Infinity Gene is available for Android at $4.99

Tic Tac Toe

For iPad, iPhone and iPod touch – Free
Android – Free

Connect Four

(I still play the original of this with my eldest son – he always wins!)
Four in a Row Free
For Android, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

Hangman Free

iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android

All these apps are available from the iTunes App Store and from Google Play.

12 February 2013

What to do before you replace your old tablet

If you've had a tablet for a few years (or less) it may be tempting to upgrade to one of the many new models being released at the moment.  Before you get rid of your old tablet there are a few things you need to do to make sure the next owner doesn't have access to any of your personal details.

First, make sure you back up any important information, such as old documents, receipts or passwords.


You can safely wipe your iPad, but still have access to your iTunes backup file from any of your other Apple devices:
  • Launch your Settings menu, then tap General.
  • Tap Reset, then choose “Erase all Content and Settings.”
  • Enter your password if prompted.
  • Tap Erase, which will delete all of your media and data as well as reset all settings.


The process of wiping your personal data from your Android tablet restores it to factory settings.
  • Tap the Menu button on your Android tablet.
  • Select Settings and then Privacy.
  • Tap the Factory Data Reset button and choose whether you want to wipe all data on your device as well as all data on your microSD Card, or just one or the other. Tap Reset Phone.
  • Confirm that you want to wipe your device by tapping the Erase Everything button.

Last year I wrote about what to do before you get rid of your old computer.  If you’d like to read that post, click here.

If your old tablet or computer is not working and you just want to get rid of it, click here to read a post I wrote about what to do with your old techie devices.    

06 February 2013

Safer Internet Day

Yesterday, worldwide, was Safer Internet Day, and in schools around Australia there are activities and events being held all week to promote safety online.   If you have children at school this is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about their safety online, and also for you to get to know what the dangers are and what you can do to protect your children and yourself.  There are some great resources available, and I've put together a collection for you of those I think are the best.  Just click on the name of each to go to that article or site.



Stay Safe Online        
You could spend hours on this site – it has everything!

Lots of tips and links to other articles on Google’s Good To Know site

Lots of tips on using the internet safely, as well as details on current scams and threats

The Australian Government’s cyber safety site.  Great resources – broken up into different age groups.

The Cyber Safety Lady         
Australia’s Cyber Safety Lady, Leonie Smith, is an expert on anything online security related.  Click on the Blog link on her site for lots of tips and information to keep your family safe.


There’s also some great Facebook Pages where you’ll find lots of tips on being safe online:

Stop, Think, Connect                          
The Cyber Safety Lady                      
The Cloud: Dream On (Facebook page of the Australian Government’s Cybersmart site)


Each of these YouTube channels provides a wide range of videos on different safety topics

The Cyber Safety Lady         

Do you have any other sites or resources you'd like to add to this list?

01 February 2013

Free Stuff Friday: Clutter Rescue app

Would you like access to expert organising advice whenever you need it, right on your phone or tablet?  Today I have a brilliant new app for you.  The Clutter Rescue app is an extension of the service provided by Helen of Clutter Rescue, an expert member of the Australian Association of Professional Organisers. 

This app is my equivalent to a child’s favourite game app – I just love anything to do with organising.  But I've never seen an app that gives you so much…..
  • Ground rules to get you started on organising
  • Organising Challenges to work through at your own pace that tackle specific clutter problems, like your car, handbag, tax, kitchen pantry, etc.
  • Quick organising tips
  • Clutter Rescue TV episodes with practical advice on how to organise specific areas of your home, schedule and children’s chores and routines;
  • Organising Podcasts to keep you motivated
  • Articles and blog posts on all aspects of organising your home.

I've been using this app for a few days, and I just love that I can choose the spot in my home that I want to tackle today and this one app provides all the information I need to get it all sorted; and not just tips for me to read – there’s videos, podcasts, blog posts and challenges.

In this video, Helen introduces and guides you through the app.

The Clutter Rescue app is available for iOS and Android and it’s free.

If you’re an organising junkie you should also take a look at more of Clutter Rescue