A free way to learn a language in 12 weeks?

By | January 15, 2011
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In the Computers newsletter this month:
  • A free way to learn a language in 12 weeks?
  • A little known shortcut that I use all the time
  • Tip from next door – what Pete does in his spare time.


It’s hard to believe we’re a fortnight into the year already! I wonder how many people have broken their New Year’s resolution yet… (Alastair has broken his – it was “Let Dad get more sleep” – at least that’s what I told him…)

A nifty BBC website, a little-known shortcut and a 10th birthday – that’s what I’ve got for you today!

BBC foreign language website

I tend not to make New Year’s resolutions – I know I’m not very good at keeping them! But one thing I’ve thought about is learning a foreign language. And if you’d like to learn a foreign language but don’t want to go on a course (or just want to try it out first), this BBC website might be helpful:

The BBC have put together several full courses that you can access for nothing. There are beginner level courses you can do in 12 weeks, using their website that has video clips and other features on it – and also tips via email to keep you on course. The also have other, more advanced bits and pieces for once you’ve mastered the basics.

I can’t remember much from my school German (apart from how to ask “What’s the best way to the station?” Sadly I wouldn’t be able to understand the answer so it’s not much help) so if I ever get back into it, I might find this a helpful way back!

A lesser known shortcut

Not many people know this one but it’s one I use a lot. You hold down the Alt key on the left of the keyboard and tap the F4 key at the top. It closes the current window, whatever that is. It’s handy if you don’t have a hand on the mouse but it also has another use…

Occasionally when you’re browsing the web, you’ll get a window that you don’t want “pop-up”. Usually it’s advertising something dodgy. Just a few of these are cunningly programmed so that if you click on what looks like the cross to close it, it’ll treat that as if you’d clicked on “OK” and do whatever it would if you’d clicked there. But it’s not possible for them to treat you pressing Alt and F4 in the same way. So if you have a dodgy looking pop-up, instead of closing it with the cross in the top right hand corner, hold down Alt and tap F4 – that’ll get rid of it.

Oh, and if you click on the desktop when you don’t have any programs open, it’ll count Windows itself as the current window and if you press Alt and F4 it’ll shut down the computer – a slightly quicker way of doing it.

Tip from Next Door – Pete

You might have heard of Wikipedia – it’s a free online encyclopedia. And it’s run by volunteers in their spare time – in fact Pete is one of them.

Wikipedia is celebrating it’s 10th birthday today! And in those ten years it has built up millions of articles, some of them quite surprising. From the smallest park in the world to an article about exploding whales, you can find the strangest here.. It’s one of those things where you start reading one thing and end up reading half a dozen other articles – could keep you reading for hours! Just scroll down the list of articles and click on one on the left when you spot one you’d like to read.

Advance information: Videos – PC breakthrough

A few people have asked what I’ve been working on lately – I can’t give too much detail just yet but it’ll be a set of videos for not-quite-complete PC beginners. The working title is PC breakthrough. I don’t want to clutter up the newsletter so click on the title if you’re interested to read a little bit more.

Well, that’s all for the first month of the year! I’ll be back next month with some more helpful tips!

Tim Wakeling

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