healthy happy computers

Your computer is starting to drag, and it’s only six months old. Sound familiar? It happens to us all – but there are simple FREE solutions! Here is useful list of important tasks that will keep your computer running smoothly:

  • Delete unused programs, folders, and files.  An external hard drive is perfect for storage and/or backup if you have lots of music, pictures, video and other large files. Using ccleaner (see below) to delete unwanted programs or turn off startup programs can be very helpful!
  • Create backup disks. Backup any files that you use on a regular basis or files that are updated frequently. In the unfortunate event of a hard drive crash, you won’t panic about lost work. Drag your entire My Documents folder to your external hard drive once a week, and store the drive in a safe place!
  • Create system restore points regularly. Do this at least once a week. If weaker viruses are accidentally downloaded, the restore point will ensure that your data is recoverable. Most computers will ask you to create a system restore point before a new download, but creating your own occasionally is a great idea.
  • I can’t stress this enough: DO NOT USE LIMEWIRE, MP3ROCKET, FROSTWIRE, BIT TORRENT OR ANY SIMILAR PROGRAMS! They not only allow illegal sharing of files, which is pirating, but they also allow viruses and spyware to slip past your firewall.
  • Use anti-spyware software. These programs can rid your computer of unwanted spyware, greyware, and malware. I recommend CCleaner and Advanced System Care Free!
  • Utilize anti-virus protection. If you can’t afford an anti-virus program, I recommend AVAST Free.
  • Defragment. Defragmenting your computer will guarantee that your files are organized and your computer is running at optimal speeds. This should be done at least once a month. I highly suggest using SmartDefrag or Defraggler in place of Windows Defrag.
  • Find a reputable computer shop! Just as you need a trustworthy auto mechanic, a trustworthy computer repairperson can save you hundreds of dollars in unnecessary repairs or upgrades. Don’t spend a lot of money on an older computer – it’s just not worth it. Save up and buy a brand new netbook or laptop instead.
  • Have at least two browsers on your computer! I recommend Google Chrome as your default browser.
  • It’s imperative that you have more than one admin account on your computer. This way, should one become corrupt, you won’t lose access to your computer. Go to the control panel, then Users, and create a new backup account. Be sure it has administrator privileges.

UPDATE: Please also remember your other devices, such as smartphones and tablets, iPhones and iPads. Check out your app store for FREE apps to clean and protect your device. I use AVAST Free on our Android devices, as well as an app called Clean Master. I discovered a CCleaner Portable edition on CNET, which has great ratings. I will be checking that out asap.

wordpress how-to’s

Years ago, Dreamweaver and FrontPage were THE products to use for web design. These days, most bloggers and developers like to use web-based products, with WordPress seeming to be the favorite. I’ve been using WordPress for about six years now, and I love it. I had to rely completely on tutorials and other free online resources to build my first sites. To make it easier on any of you that happen along, I have pulled together a number of WordPress tutorials to make your first or next website amazing. I’ll keep adding, so check back often. If you have any awesome resources, please share!

Beginner WordPress Tutorial Video by NuuVidea

Mashable’s 5 Essential WordPress Tips for the Beginner

Step by Step Video on How to Blog with WordPress (It’s a long one!)

UPDATED Step by Step Video on WordPress.com (A bit longer, but worth it!)

Wikiversity’s Web Design Portal

WordPress Tips – a cool portal with links to other blogs about wordpress.com

Matt’s Tips on WordPress.com

10 WordPress Tips to Make Your Blog Look Like a Website (For Beginners)

apps and resources for your classroom

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As you can imagine, this post will be updated frequently! I would certainly appreciate your input, so comment below to add your own awesome apps and resources, as well as let me know what you think about those I’ve shared:

SPOTLIGHT ON:

Grand Tour of Google Drive

Cool Links – this is my own collections of cool resources.

ClassDojo – FREE Behavior Management App for the Classroom

Typing Club – Full FREE Typing Course for Kids

Portland Press Herald App – Students have access to the newspaper every day!

Virtual Manipulatives – FREE Math Manipulatives App – Awesome reviews!

These TechEdge videos are great – the one I’ve shared is one of MANY. Check them out!

iPad Apps:

The 55 Best Free Educational Apps for iPad – by TeachThought

iPad Apps Tracker – Top 200 Free Apps for Education – by PadGadget

20 Amazing iPad Apps for Educators - by TeachHub.com

Best Free iPad Apps – by Gizmo’s Freeware

48 FREE Educational Apps Sorted by Grade Level – by Edudemic

Android Apps:

50 Free Android Apps Being Used in Education Right Now – by Edudemic

Top Android Apps for Kids to Download (Free) – by GetAndroidStuff

The 50 Best Education Apps for Android – by TeachThought (not all free – but worth a glance)

Thinglink – Make Your Images Interactive

Thinglink is a cool free resource that’s making learning (and teaching!) even more fun and interactive.

According to the ThingLInk Toolkit, “ThingLink is a free and user friendly digital tool that provides users with the ability to turn any image into an interactive graphic. Create multiple “hot spots” on specific parts of an image and turn that image into a multimedia launcher. Include video, record audio or provide a link to any website with the click of a button. Easily embed an interactive ThingLink graphic into any blog or website. ThingLink is a truly amazing tool that allows users to pack a lot of content into a small space. ThingLink is a flexible tool that is well-suited for use in the classroom.”

Check it out if you have a few minutes to spare – you’ll thank me:

ThinkLink’s Homepage

ThingLink Toolkit - chock full of great stuff!

A ThingLink about ThingLink!

Seeking Jobs – In Maine

I created a page today entitled Job Seekers, which links to some wonderful tips, tricks and resources on landing that perfect job. I also wanted to add some specialized info for my friends in Maine, with even more specialized info for those finding themselves unemployed in Education:

MAINE EMPLOYMENT LINKS

Jobs in Maine

JobsinME

Maine Career Center

Maine Department of Labor

Maine.gov Employment Portal

EDUCATION EMPLOYMENT LINKS

Serving Schools

SchoolSpring

Another Monday Ruined by Technology

A productive afternoon at my desk turned to 30 minutes of pure horror today. I received a call from the good folks at LifeLine, which provides my just-turned-eighty mother with a necklace she can press in the event of a medical emergency. I have yet to discover if pressing this device emits a sound, but I plan to find out.

But I digress. It would appear that both my phone and my sister’s phone rang at about the same time, alerting us that our Mother had pressed her LifeLine button, but a call to her home phone was fruitless. Did I mention that the Fire Department entered the apartment, to discover it EMPTY?

Unaware that this contraption only works within 100 feet of her living room, I called the police so they could put out a BOLO on her Neon – bright red crocheted flag on the antenna and all . We Googled numbers and began making calls, our voices shaking and the tears welling up.

A call to my Aunt yielded paydirt: on Mondays, she goes to the Senior Center to play Scrabble. And yes, she had the number.

The gentleman at the Senior Center listened to my story and made an announcement to the room, calling her by name. I could hear her voice faintly in the background, “I’m over here!” I envisioned her placing a “Q” above an “I” to form “qi” for a triple-word score.

As far as we can figure, she must have hit the dang button getting into her car, which is parked right outside her apartment. It sent a crystal clear signal to the transponder, setting off a series of unfortunate events.

Normally at night, I play Words with Friends to relax. Not tonight.