New addition to the Wakeling household

By | July 15, 2010
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In the Computers newsletter this month:

  • New addition to the Wakeling household
  • Broadband tax scrapped (probably not just because I didn’t like it…)
  • The right click trick
  • The two kinds of home page – and what the difference is
  • Two nifty websites


He’s finally arrived!  A week and a day later but Alastair Ethan Wakeling arrived at 8:02am on Tuesday morning, weighing 8 pounds 11.  He and Julie are doing fine and Alastair’s been practicing keeping us awake even before leaving the hospital!


Of course as a new Dad I’m proudly showing everyone I possibly can the photos – click on these to see some:


Anyway, as you can imagine, it’s been a busy couple of weeks!  But I’ve managed to get some time to sit down and write the mid-month newsletter for you.

I did cheat a bit, though.  One of the articles is one I wrote a good while ago, taken out and dusted off.  Still useful, though!  And the others are all brand new!

No more broadband tax
First of all, you might remember a while ago there was a plan for a new tax to come in, to fund fancy super-fast broadband.  I wasn’t very impressed (well, who ever does like taxes?) – in particular because it was a tax on phone lines, regardless of whether you had broadband.  So you could hate computers and plan to never use one in your life, but you’d still be paying the “broadband tax” if you have a landline.

But now it’s been scrapped – before it even started.  So that’s one thing you won’t need to worry about!

The magic of right click menus
Here’s a tip that can save you great piles of time and frustration. When you’re not sure how to get something to do what you want, try right clicking on it. Plenty of times you’ll get a menu which includes the option you want.
For example:

  • If you want to change the colour of the background of your screen: right click on the background, select properties and then desktop and choose your colour.
  • If you’re typing a letter in Word, and you want to find an alternative word for something you’ve typed. Right-click on the word and point to “synomyms” and you’ll get a list of alternatives.
  • You’ve got a picture and want to check how big a file it is. Right click on it in “My Documents” or “Windows Explorer” and select properties.
  • You’ve got an email from someone and want to add them to your address book in Outlook Express. Just right click and select (wait for it…) “Add sender to Address-book”
    There are dozens of other uses for the handy right-click menu. So next time you’re thinking “How do I do this…” try right clicking. It might just save you an hour or two of pulling your hair out!

Two meanings of home page
Computer people seem to love to cause confusion by having two things with the same name.  And here’s a classic example.  Home page can mean two completely different things:

It can mean the “main” page of a website – the one you go to when you type in the web address (eg if you go to you get the home page – then click on any of the buttons on the left to go to other pages on the site).

It can also mean the page your web browser (eg Internet Explorer) goes to each time you start it up, before you choose a particular page.

The first kind of home page you don’t really need to know much about – it’s just worth knowing that that’s what it’s called in case you read something like “Go to the home page of the site”.

But the second kind is well worth knowing about, so you can change it if you want to (or if a website sneakily changes it without you wanting it to, you can go back in and put it back again).

Here’s how:
Start up Internet Explorer and go to the webpage you want as your homepage  (it could be anything – , a newspaper site… anything).  Then click on Tools and Internet Options.  At the top of the window that appears, click on “Use current” and then on “OK” – that’s it done.  Next time you start Internet Explorer it’ll go straight to that page, saving you having to type it in or select it from your favorites list.

Two nifty websites
One of these is only any use if you’re in London – but the other one could be useful anywhere.

The first one is a map of the train network around the UK.  Nothing amazing there – except it shows all the trains on it, showing you where they currently are.  So you can see how a train is going on.  If you’ve got someone coming to visit, you can see how far along the line the train is (and whether it’s delayed) or if you want to catch a train you could check for delays.
It’s here:

There’s also a similar site doing the same for the London underground.  I suppose that’s less useful as the trains are so close together – and anyway, even with a wireless connection or if you have a fancy mobile phone that can display websites, you can’t get a receiption underground!  But it’s impressive, still, even if less useful than the national one!  Here it is:

That’s all for now!


Tim Wakeling

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