A short video and a tip from Alastair

By | September 1, 2012
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This time I’ve got several different things for you, including a video… and a tip from Alastair (he’s started teaching me now…)

Something I’ve been using a lot lately – Google Docs
Often I get the idea for what to write about in this newsletter from someone writing in, or a question someone in the Inner Circle asks.

But this time, it’s something I’ve been using lately – and have found very useful.

It’s something called Google Docs (or Google Drive).  In a nutshell, it’s a bit like Microsoft Word and Excel, or OpenOffice, but instead of installing it on your PC, you use it on the web.  You don’t need to buy or install the program… and it stores your work on the internet instead of on your PC.

There are advantages and disadvantages, but the big advantage for me is that I can access my work from whatever computer I’m using – whether I’m in the office or at home.  All without carrying a laptop about.

It’s easier to show you how it works rather than try to explain it in writing, so here’s a short video www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/NL010912video.htm

A tip from me and a tip from Alastair – Skype
I’ve been using www.skype.com a fair bit lately – it lets you make a video phone call across the internet and I’ve been using it to keep in touch with Mum and Dad.  It’s especially good now Alastair and Edward are about.  Since we live at opposite ends of the country, Mum and Dad don’t see them all that often but they can can see them growing up this way.

But I didn’t expect Alastair to show me a feature I didn’t know about.  I don’t mind my son teaching me new things, but he is only two…

First, the tip from me: if you use Skype for a video call, look for a little button near the bottom that has four arrows in it.  If you point the mouse at it, a little box should pop up saying “Full screen”, which makes the video fill the screen, so you can see it more clearly.

Great.  But what I didn’t think of is that if you have a widescreen monitor (like I do), then it’s a different shape from the picture the camera takes.  So it chops off a bit of the top and bottom to make it the right shape.

That’s OK, but that might be the top of Mum’s head… or Dad’s chin, depending on exactly where the camera is pointing.

That’s where Alastair’s tip comes in.  While he was chatting to his Grandad, shouting “boo”, he was also playing with the mouse.  And he found that if you move the mouse to the top of the screen, it moves the bit it shows up – so that you don’t lose any of the top of the screen.  And if you move it to the bottom, it moves the bit it shows down, so you don’t lose any of the bottom of the screen.

You still lose one or the other, but you can choose which and chances are the person you’re talking to doesn’t have their face exactly filling the picture, so that’s fine.

(By the way, after we’d finished, we went into the kitchen to have dinner.  A minute later Alastair had run off and I found him sat at the computer, having managed to turn it on, playing with the microphone and wiggling the mouse.  By next year I’m going to have to be careful or he’ll be calling Mum and Dad up… and what then… before I know it he’ll be writing my newsletters for me!)

Well, that’s all for now.  I’m off to play with Alastair while he still appreciates being thrown in the air and being tickled and before he starts teaching me Quantum Mechanics…