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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in computer classes

Everything You Wanted to Know About Hard Disk Drives

What does a hard drive do?
Information storage is the hard drive’s main responsibility. Think the electronic version of the old office filing cabinet. Everything you keep on your computer is on a hard drive. Not just documents, emails, contacts, favorites pictures, music and videos. Your programs, your preferences, your printers, your settings, even your operating system—they’re all stored on your computer’s hard drive.

If your hard drive is damaged or fails, you can lose it all. This is the sad truth and unfortunately we still see this 10+ times per week. Which is why most smart people have a backup system. They get another hard drive and copy all their important files onto that.


How big of a hard drive do you need?
Everything that can be saved on a hard drive is measured in terms of its size. Text is very small, pictures are larger, music is even bigger, and video is the biggest of them all.

A hard drive is like a scale. It doesn’t know the difference between things that are on it; it only knows their size. But instead of kilograms, a hard drive measures things in terms of megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB.)

Roughly speaking, a megabyte is 1 million bytes, a gigabyte is 1 billion bytes, and a terabyte is 1 trillion bytes.

What does this mean for you?

If you need to transfer files between computers or a drive to back up just some of your files, you can get by with a smaller drive (such as a 500GB External Hard Drive).

If you want to back up your entire computer, or even several computers, or if you store a lot of video and audio files, you’ll want a larger drive (such as a 1TB or larger Network Attached Storeage System - NAS for short).


Will your drive work with a PC or a Mac?
Most Hard Drives PC Pitstop sell works with either a PC or a Mac. Some drives are already formatted to work with one or the other. But any drive can be reformatted to work with either type of computer.

IMPORTANT: If you reformat a drive, every single file on that drive is erased. So make sure you copy your files somewhere safe before you reformat.

It’s more difficult to use the same drive on both a PC and a Mac. The short answer is, they’re not really compatible. The more detailed answer is that, in a few specific circumstances, you can do a few specific things. 

What are the different types of hard drive connections?
There are four basic ways to connect your hard drive to your computer:

This is the most common connection type. There’s no set-up at all. Just plug it in. The computer recognises the drive, and you’re able to read and save files almost instantly.

Plug-and-play like USB, Firewire 800 is significantly faster, making it popular with those transferring video files.

This is the standard connection for internal hard drives. Offers the highest file transfer speeds of any format.

A less common, high-performance connection most commonly found in PCs. An eSATA connection performs at speeds that most closely resemble an internal drive.


How important is hard drive speed?
When you start your computer, open a file, listen to a song, or do just about anything else, you use your hard drive. The discs inside the drive spin. The faster they spin, the more quickly your computer can find the file you want.

So a drive rated at 7,200 rpm will be faster than one rated at 5,400 rpm. What that means for your day-to-day use will vary. With external drives, you’ll hardly notice a difference. With internal drives, the difference will be slight with smaller files and applications, but will be obvious with larger files and applications - and all of this adds up.

Should you choose internal or external?
An internal drive provides built-in storage at top speeds. An external drive gives you greater flexibility and expanded storage whenever you need it.

Each choice has its benefits and drawbacks.

Internal drives have to be physically installed and configured by a PC Pitstop Trained Technician opening up your computer. But your files and programs are stored directly on your computer; they’re always there whenever you need them.

External drives are connected to your computer via plug-in cables. This lets you take files with you, transfer them to other computers, or instantly add storage to your computer or network without too many technical hurdles.


How much can I store?

Here are some averages to give an idea of what you can store on which size drive.

  Digital Music (MP3) Digital Photo's (JPG) Digital Video's (MP4)
500Gb 25,000 Songs 160,000 Photo's 500 Hours
1000Gb (1Tb) 50,000 Songs 320,000 Photo's 1000 Hours
2000Gb (2Tb) 100,000 Songs 640,000 Photo's 2000 Hours



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Posted by on in Repairs


Why do computers slow down?

A question that we get asked all the time here at PC Pitstop is why computers get slower over time. This can start to happen within a year after you get a new PC, but usually it happens in just a few short months.

Since we all use our computers for a whole range of different tasks and activities, there isn’t one single reason that pinpoints why this happens.

The thing is, when you first get a new computer and boot it up it works lightning fast. That’s because it doesn’t have anything on it except the bare bones operating system. 

Regardless of whether you have a PC or Mac, over time as you download files, install software, add printers and surf the Internet etc, your computer gets bloated with files that hog system resources.

In addition, there are many other things that contribute to a slowdown. Here is the most common issues we find:

1. Hard Drive Corruption

The hard drive is the electronic equivalent of the old office filing cabinet. It's really is an amazing piece of technology that has helped propelled our world forward into the information age. A typical computer can hold anywhere from 150,000 - 300,000 high quality photographs or over a million documents or books.

All of this information is tightly packed ingeniously onto a disk and into a tiny enclosure, which looks suprisingly similar to that of the old record player. The information is stored in magnetic form on top of the disk and this is where the complexity starts to become its own undoing.

The problem is, corruption can occur from power surges (power spikes), brown outs (power dips), static electricity (from carpet, clothes and other fabrics), solar flares, cosmic radiation, vibration, bumps, knocks, computer viruses, software errors and even the layer on the magnetic disk changing over time.


2. RAM

Not having enough RAM is like not having a big enough table to work on. You can only have so many items on the table before it get clutted and full. The computer does its best to keep going without crashing - moving things around - but to do so - it slows down even further. Solution - the more RAM the better! RAM is cheap these days and the more you got - the more the computer will be able to use as a super fast temporary storage place.

 3. Spyware, Viruses and Unnecessary Software

These programs all need attention - they run in the background and all want to steal a little bit of time from the CPU/Processor (Think information pump).
This all stacks on top of each other and adds up very quickly. Typically we remove 500+ pieces of spyware and virus related programs on EVERY computer we service (our record is over 20,000!). PC Pitstop have an award winning and unique 5 stage process that removes all spyware, viruses and nasties that even the best AntiVirus protection leaves behind.

4. System and Software Updates

If you are updating your software regularly, this will take up space and more system resources - contributing to the slow down even further. Interestingly enough, if you were to wipe the computer in year 3 and put all the original software back on - it would be as fast as the day you brought it. However this is not exactly secure or feasible way to run your computer. Updates are mostly security and bug fixes that go a long way to protect your computer.


5. Mechanical Hard Drives Slow Down With Age

If you have a standard hard drive (not SSD) your hard drive will slow down and fail over time. Being mechanical - this is the nature of their design and cannot be avoided without upgrading to a Solid State Hard Drive (SSD). Solid state hard drives are reasonably new and more expensive than their mechanical counterparts but wow - they work really really fast. I MEAN REALLY REALLY REALLY FAST. For the single most impressive upgrade you can do for your computer - get a SSD Hard Drive. You will love the difference and never look back.

Now I have painted a picture of why computers slow down - how do you fix a slow computer?

Easy - just like your car goes in for a 10,000Km service - your computer also needs regular tuning up as well. For power users and businesses - minimum every 6 months and for the rest of us - every 12 months. This is what the big department stores will not and do not want to tell you. It is in their best interest for you to get annoyed with your computer to the point of frustration within 18 months - that you go out and buy another one.


A tuneup finds and fixes problems, spots bigger problems (before they occur and cost you more time and money), removes virus and spyware infections, scans and repairs your hard disk, installs necessary security updates and is also a perfect time for you to engage a PC Pitstop Trained Technician to ask any questions that have been niggeling at you or to fix other issues that you have been putting off.

Your computer is an investment - and for most of us - a very important tool we use every day. It pays to be proactive with your investments - instead of waiting for the day when everything grinds to a halt and you have lost some or all of your important data. Unfortunately we still see this every day.

SO - drop in and book in for your routine computer tuneup at PC Pitstop - 10 Bellbowrie Street Port Macquarie - 02 65 841551.

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Computer Induced Medical Problems & How to Avoid Them

It's now common knowledge that posture and ergonmics are a very important part of avoiding RSI and other computer-use related injuries but after a chance search I found out there is a lot more we need to be wary of.

Here's an exert straight from Wikipedia on a few other nasties:

Computer vision syndrome

In many cases, frequent computer users suffer from computer vision syndrome, which is a degenerative eye problem which can result in severely reduced eyesight (Myopia), blurred vision, overall eye tiredness and even Glaucoma. Computer Eye Syndrome is an umbrella term for many problems but the causes of these problems can be easily identified. When using a computer due to the size and setup of the monitor and components it is necessary for the user to be within at least two feet of the monitor when performing any type of computational work. This presents many problems especially in older monitors due to an elevated amount of monitor glare, poor display quality and insufficient picture display refresh rates. Although these problems are more evident in older computers the newer models are not free from these problems either. Studies have been conducted [6] into the correlation between computers and eye problems and it was found that the Ionizing radiation given off by monitors has severe detrimental effects on the eye and eyesight on a whole. They also state “Treatment requires a multidirectional approach combining ocular therapy with adjustment of the workstation”[6] which shows these problems are quite easily solved with minimal investment from computer manufacturers through producing higher quality monitors with better resolution and refresh rates. The most common form of Computer Vision Syndrome is a condition termed Dry Eye, which results in itchy, sore and even the illusion that something is stuck in your eye. This condition is often caused by extensively long period looking at a computer screen

Video screens have a design process for user interface. Video screens can cause eyestrain from prolonged viewing. Cathode ray tubes are what are used to display the information on your computer. These send off radiation. This is a concern that has been taken into account when designing better computer screens for user interface.[4][5]

Musculoskeletal problems

Another medical issue caused by the use of computers is back and posture problems. These problems relate to musculoskeletal disorders caused by the need for the user to be crouched and hunched towards the monitors and computer components due to the design and positioning of these particular computer peripherals. This hunching forward of the user causes posture and back problems but is also the cause of severe and acute pain in the upper back, particularly pain in the neck and or shoulders. A study [7] was conducted where 2146 technical assistants installed a computer program to monitor the musculoskeletal pain they suffered and answered questionnaires on the location and severity of the pain. The study showed interesting results, as it detailed how in the majority of cases any pain suffered was aggravated and exacerbated by the use of computer peripherals like the mouse and keyboard but overall the pain did not originate from using computers. "Moreover, there seems to be no relationship between computer use and prolonged and chronic neck and shoulder pain"[7] This is a positive study for computer manufacturers but although the pain may not originate from computer peripherals there is no doubt that the pain is exacerbated by their use and this revelation alone should lead computer manufacturers to pioneer new technologies that reduce the risk of posture or musculoskeletal problems aggravated by the use of poorly designed and linearly designed computer peripherals.

In another study,[8] It was found that women are at a greater risk than men to suffer from musculoskeletal problems then men. Two explanations given were that "women appear to consistently report more neck and upper extremity symptoms than men.", and that women may assume more taxing positions while working than men do due to differences in anthropometrics.

(Read the whole article HERE)

And from the Better Health Channel website comes more:

Posture-related injuries from computer use

Back and neck pain, headaches, and shoulder and arm pain are common computer-related injuries. Such muscle and joint problems can be caused or made worse by poor workstation (desk) design, bad posture and sitting for long periods of time.

Although sitting requires less muscular effort than standing, it still causes physical fatigue (tiredness) and you need to hold parts of your body steady for long periods of time. This reduces circulation of blood to your muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments, sometimes leading to stiffness and pain. If a workstation is not set up properly, these steady positions can put even greater stress on your muscles and joints.

Preventing computer-related muscle and joint injuries

Tips to avoid muscle and joint problems include:

  • Sit at an adjustable desk specially designed for use with computers.
  • Have the computer monitor (screen) either at eye level or slightly lower.
  • Have your keyboard at a height that lets your elbows rest comfortably at your sides. Your forearms should be roughly parallel with the floor and level with the keyboard.
  • Adjust your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor, or use a footstool.
  • Use an ergonomic chair, specially designed to help your spine hold its natural curve while sitting.
  • Use an ergonomic keyboard so that your hands and wrists are in a more natural position.
  • Take frequent short breaks and go for a walk, or do stretching exercises at your desk. Stand often.

Computer-related overuse injuries of the hand or arm

Muscles and tendons can become painful with repetitive movements and awkward postures. This is known as ‘overuse injury’ and typically occurs in the elbow, wrist or hand of computer users. Symptoms of these overuse injuries include pain, swelling, stiffness of the joints, weakness and numbness.

download 1

Preventing computer-related overuse injuries

Tips to avoid overuse injuries of the hand or arm include:

  • Have your mouse at the same height as your correctly positioned keyboard.
  • Position the mouse as close as possible to the side of the keyboard.
  • Use your whole arm, not just your wrist, when using the mouse.
  • Type lightly and gently.
  • Mix your tasks to avoid long, uninterrupted stretches of using the computer.
  • Remove your hands from the keyboard when not actively typing, to let your arms relax.

Eyestrain from computer use

Focusing your eyes at the same distance point for long periods of time causes fatigue. The human eye structurally prefers to look at objects more than six metres away, so any work performed close up puts extra demands on your eye muscles.

The illuminated computer screen can also cause eye fatigue. Although there is no evidence that eye fatigue damages your eyesight, computer users may get symptoms such as blurred vision, temporary inability to focus on faraway objects and headaches.


Preventing eyestrain from computer use
Tips to avoid eyestrain include:

  • Make sure your main source of light (such as a window) is not shining into your face or directly onto the computer screen.
  • Tilt the screen slightly to avoid reflections or glare.
  • Make sure the screen is not too close to your face.
  • Put the screen either at eye level or slightly lower.
  • Reduce the contrast and brightness of your screen by adjusting the controls.
  • Frequently look away from the screen and focus on faraway objects.
  • Have regular eye examinations to check that any blurring, headaches and other associated problems are not caused by any underlying disorders.

Injuries from laptop computers

The growing use of laptop computers has caused more pains, strains and injuries among computer users.

Laptop computers were designed to be used for short periods of time when a person couldn’t access a desktop computer. But these days many people use a laptop all the time.

The problem is that the monitor and keyboard of a laptop are very close together. To position the monitor at the right height for your back and neck causes you to lift your arms and shoulders too high. But to position the keyboard at the best height for your arms and shoulders, you must hunch your shoulders and neck to see the monitor.

Carrying your laptop around can also strain your muscles and joints.

Preventing injury from laptop computers
Tips to reduce laptop dangers include:

  • Use a correctly set-up desktop computer instead of a laptop as often as you can.
  • Use peripheral equipment, such as a docking station, separate keyboard, mouse and laptop stand.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Carry your laptop in a backpack or in wheel-along luggage.

Children and computer-related injuries

Researchers believe that electronic games may be among the causes of childhood obesity (being very overweight). And like adults, children might also get overuse injuries of the hand, and muscle and joint problems such as back and neck pain or headaches.

Some research has shown that playing violent computer games and a large amount of game time may cause aggressive behaviour in some children and may negatively affect a child’s school work. Although computer and video games are fun and offer benefits such as improved spatial awareness, parents should keep in mind that moderation is important in avoiding health problems.

Health risks from computer games
Playing computer games for too long or without correct furniture and posture can lead to health problems such as:

  • Overuse injuries of the hand
  • Obesity
  • Muscle and joint problems
  • Eyestrain
  • Behavioural problems including aggressive behaviour
  • Photosensitive epileptic seizures (caused by flashing or rapidly changing lights – this is rare).

Parents can reduce the risk of children developing computer-related health problems. You can encourage your child to:
Sit at least one metre away from the screen
Take frequent breaks
Pursue other activities. Encourage your child to enjoy different hobbies and interests, particularly sports and physical activities.

You can also:

  • Set sensible time limits on your child’s game playing. Some guidelines recommend no more than two hours of screen time each day
  • Set up the computer, desk, chair and keyboard to suit your child’s height. For example, adjust the chair so that your child’s feet rest flat on the floor
  • Buy an ergonomic chair
  • Buy a smaller mouse, which suits the size of your child’s hand
  • Teach your child to use the keyboard and mouse properly and safely, such as pushing the buttons and other controls gently. Using unnecessary force increases the risk of overuse injury.

Benefits of computer games

  • Playing video and computer games is a lot of fun, and can offer children other important benefits too. Depending on the game, playing can improve:
  • Spatial awareness
  • Iconic skills (reading images or diagrams)
  • Visual attention skills (such as keeping track of various objects at the same time)
  • Attention span in children who have attention problems.

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Physiotherapist
  • Health and safety officer
  • Australian Physiotherapy Association Tel. (03) 9092 0888 or 1300 306 622


Things to remember

  • Working at a computer can cause back, neck and shoulder pains, headache, eyestrain and overuse injuries of the arms and hands.
  • You can help avoid computer-related injuries with proper furniture, better posture and good working habits.
  • Parents should put sensible time limits on their children’s computer use and video-game playing.
  • Your child should take regular breaks from using a computer and should do some physical activities each day.

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PC Pitstop Speciality Lessons

Stop banging your head on the desk trying to figure that pesky computer problem and ask for a Speciality Lesson from your PC Pitstop Trained Technician.

These 1hr in-store, one-on-one lessons can cover many topics that may be troubling you, such as:

  1. Basic Computer Use – start-up, shut-down, navigation, etc.
  2. Internet Use – effective searching, basic facebook, etc.
  3. Photo Filing – uploading from cards or devices, sorting and basic editing
  4. Windows 8 Use – introduction to the metro interface
  5. iPad Use – how to use your device, apps, etc.

Make the best use of your time and come with a prepared list of questions. Your Technician will answer as many of them as possible and show you how...and show you again! BOOK A LESSON TODAY.



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Posted by on in Helpful Hints

Excel users...this is the one of the best NEED TO KNOW guide I've seen in a long time, thanks to brilliant Bit.



15 basics to know if you use Excel spreadsheets

Don't like that annoying habit Excel has of trying to guess the right format for a cell you're updating? Here's how to turn it off, plus other handy tips.

When it comes to organising data, Excel is tremendously capable. However, the wealth of tools available can be daunting, and many powerful features are easily overlooked. 

Here’s a selection of 15 of our favourite one-click tools and simple features that can help you whip a worksheet into shape in moments. These tips all work in Excel 2007 and later (except where stated), and many are available in earlier versions, too.

Formats and fills

1 Format Painter

The Format Painter tool lets you copy the formatting of a cell onto one or more other cells, leaving the contents unchanged. Place the cursor in your source cell, click Format Painter (under the Home tab), then click in another cell to apply the formatting. You can drag to apply the format to a range of cells at once. 
The Format Painter automatically disengages when you release the mouse button: if you double-click its icon, however, it will stay active until you click again to disable it, or press Escape – handy for formatting non-contiguous ranges. 

2 Clear Formats 

When you type a number into an empty cell, Excel tries to guess the right format: for example, enter “17/2” or “25%” and your cell will automatically switch to Date or Percentage format. This isn’t always what you want, and it’s annoying if you later change the cell contents, since Excel won’t thereafter update the applied format to suit new data. You can remove all formatting from any cell (or range) via the dropdown labelled Clear, which you’ll find to the right of the Home tab, within the Editing group.
Other options under this dropdown let you clear the contents of cells, leaving the formatting untouched, or remove comments or hyperlinks. If you don’t want Excel to automatically format your cells in the first place, you can precede a cell’s contents with an apostrophe to make Excel interpret it as text.

3 Quick cell format changes

You can set the format of a cell directly from a dropdown menu, or  with the click of a button
You can specify a format for any cell or range via the Format Cells window (click the pop-out icon in the Number group under the Home tab). It’s quicker to use the dropdown menu within that icon group, though – you’ll see the default setting is General.
The buttons below this dropdown can save time too. The one that looks like a banknote and coins sets a cell to Accounting format (click the dropdown to choose a currency), while the percentage sign does what you’d expect. The comma icon punctuates large numbers to make them easier to read, so 1000000 becomes 1,000,000 (this doesn’t affect your ability to use the number in calculations). Lastly, the decimal icons make the selected cells show more or fewer decimal places, making it easier to deal with calculated values that present an unneeded degree of precision.

4 Autofill

Most people know that you can quickly fill a column or row with copies of the same number or text by entering it once, then dragging the marker at the bottom-right corner of that cell to cover the range you want to fill. This works with numerical series, too: if you have two adjacent cells containing “1” and “2”, you can select them both and drag onwards in the same direction to automatically count as high as you like. 
This also works with days of the week, calendar dates and other types of data Excel recognises. You can even use numbers that follow simple patterns: drag to extend the series 12, 17, 22 and Excel will correctly fill in the next cells with 27, 32 and so forth.

5 Text to columns

If you have to process a mass of imported text, you can split it across multiple columns by clicking Text To Columns in the Data Tools group under the Data tab: the dialog box that opens will allow you to split cell contents according to either character counts or separator characters. 
In Excel 2013, you can also extract specific elements from a column of data with a new feature called Flash Fill. To illustrate how it works, let’s imagine you have a column of computer memory capacities such as “2GB”, “1GB”, “4GB” and so on. If you manually enter “2” in an empty cell next to the 2GB value, then drag down to autofill the cells below, Excel will by default fill all the cells with the same value. But if you then click on the Smart Tag that appears at the bottom corner of your new range and select Flash Fill, Excel will use values extracted from the neighbouring column instead, using your originally selected cell as a model: you’ll see that the cell values change to 2, 1, 4 and so on.

Managing your data

6 Remove duplicates

If you’ve imported a large amount of data from another program, you may have any number of duplicate entries. You can get rid of these manually by sorting and deleting cells, but Excel can do it for you: simply select the table, then go to the Data tab and click Remove Duplicates. If you’ve selected a two-dimensional range, you can specify which columns must all match for a row to qualify as a duplicate.

7 Name your cells and ranges

In a large spreadsheet, you’re likely to be working with numerous ranges of data, and making sense of your cell references can quickly become confusing. You can make life easier by assigning names to important cells and ranges so that, in place of opaque formulae such as “=SUM(A19:J31)+L16”, you can use readily readable descriptions such as “=SUM(Payments)+Bonus”. You’ll find the Define Name tool under the Formulas tab. Once you’ve created a name, you’ll see it come up as an autocomplete suggestion whenever you type in a formula, although old cell references in existing formulae won’t automatically update.

8 Trace precedents and dependents

The Trace Precedents feature shows you exactly which cells are referred to by a formula
No matter how neatly you organise your spreadsheet, sooner or later you’re likely to come across a confusing formula that seems to draw data from a dozen unexpected places. You can get a visual indication of exactly which cells it’s referring to by selecting the cell, then opening the Formulas tab and selecting Trace Precedents (under Formula Auditing). A handy set of arrows will show exactly which values are used. Similarly, a click on the Trace Dependents button will reveal, at a glance, exactly which cells in a worksheet contain references to the selected cell. Note that if you have a range of cells selected when you click, only the cell that’s actually active (that is, the unshaded one from which you started dragging) will be traced.

9 Show formulas

In a large spreadsheet you can lose track of which cells contain raw data and which contain calculated values. A click on Show Formulas – again under the Formulas tab – will expand all cells containing calculations to show their formulae instead of the results. Click again to return to the regular view. In Excel 2013, you can also create a Conditional Formatting rule to highlight cells where “=ISFORMULA(A1)” is true (replace A1 with the reference of the top-left cell of your selected range).
Another easy way to find formulae and other types of cell is with the Go To command, which is located on the Home tab under Editing (you can also access it by pressing Ctrl-G or F5). The Go To window shows you a list of named references you can jump to; click “Special...” and you can use it to select cells of many types, including precedents, formulae, blanks and comments.

10 Paste Special

The Paste Special dialog lets you turn formulae into values, carry out multiple mathematical operations, and switch rows and columns
You probably know that you can use the smart tag that appears when you hit “paste” to specify formatting options for pasted data. You may not know about the more powerful “Paste Special” dialog: you can find it under the Paste dropdown on the Home tab, or you can open it directly by pressing Alt-Ctrl-V. The Paste Special window makes it easy to paste only the values of the formulae you’ve copied, or to copy only aspects of the source’s visual style. 
You can also use this feature to perform calculations on several cells at once. Select Add and, rather than replacing the destination cells, the source cells’ values will be added to them. As a final trick, try ticking Transpose in the Paste Special window: you’ll see that your pasted cells are flipped around, so columns become rows and rows become columns – something that’s otherwise a pain to achieve.

Views and visuals

11 Freeze panes

When you’re working with large tables of data, row and column headers tend to get pushed off the edges of the window, making it easy to get lost. The answer is the Freeze Panes feature, which you’ll find on the View tab. With one click, you can freeze the top row or the first column of your worksheet, so it will remain visible as you scroll around. 
If you want to freeze both at once, simply position your cursor at the top left of your table data (so it’s below and to the right of your column and row headers) and select the general-purpose Freeze Panes option from the dropdown. Now you can scroll around your data to your heart’s content, while your headers remain visible at all times.

12 Conditional formatting

Conditional formatting can provide an at-a-glance indication of the highs and lows of a set of figures. To see it in action, select the range of cells you’re interested in, then click the Conditional Formatting dropdown from the Styles group on the Home tab. The top two options let you highlight cells according to a particular rule – such as those greater than a specific value – or choose a Top/Bottom rule to automatically mark the highest or lowest values. 
The most powerful conditional formatting options automatically add graphical tags or coloured backgrounds to the cells in your range, to give a clear visual indication of high and low values. Hover your mouse over the various options under Data Bars, Colour Gradients and Icon Sets to see how your data will look with each set of formatting applied. 

13 Sparklines (Excel 2010/2013)

For Office 2013 users, Sparklines provide a handy visual indicator of trends and trajectories across multiple datasets
Conditional formatting is great for comparing a single set of figures, but what if you want an at-a-glance overview of multiple trends? One option is to insert a graph, but a neater solution is to use Sparklines – groups of miniature graphs that each occupy a single cell. To add Sparklines to a worksheet, select a two-dimensional table of data, then go to the Insert tab and select Line, Column or Win/Loss from the Sparklines group. You’ll be prompted to specify where you want the Sparklines to go: drag along an available column or row and click OK and you’ll see Sparklines appear. 
You can configure the appearance of a Sparkline group using the Sparkline Tools | Design tab that appears when you click on a Sparkline cell. By default, each Sparkline automatically scales to use the full height and width of the cell; under the Axis dropdown you’ll find options to use the same minimum and maximum values for all Sparklines, so you can compare values directly across an entire Sparkline group. 

14 Collapse grouped cells

Many spreadsheets include large tables of figures with summary rows at the top or bottom. Sometimes you just want to work with these summaries, and temporarily ignore the data from which they derive. This can be done easily with Excel’s Outline tools. Select the relevant rows or columns, then go to the Outline group on the Data tab and click the Group icon. You’ll see a new column open at the left or top of the window, bracketing your range together with a minus sign icon. Click this icon and the rows and columns will be temporarily collapsed, so you can get a clean overview of your spreadsheet without having to move or hide your data.

15 Print Area 

Excel’s print dialog tries to fit your spreadsheet to the desired number of pages, but it’s fiddly. It’s much easier to use the Page Break Preview, which you’ll find under the View tab. This view overlays thick dashed lines and page numbers onto your worksheet, so you can see exactly what falls where – and if you’re not happy with the layout, you can drag the page boundaries with the mouse to specify precisely what should go on which page. 
You can also specify that only a certain area of the worksheet should be printed – useful if, for example, you’ve made notes off to the sides of a table of data. You can do this by dragging the outer page boundaries in Page Break Preview to exclude unwanted cells. Alternatively, while in Page Break Preview, you can select an area of your worksheet, right-click and choose Set Print Area from the contextual menu. You can also do this using the Print Area dropdown from the Page Layout tab.
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Just got your computer back from repair and facing the task of plugging it all back in? Fear not, this simple rear desktop computer connection guide will help you out!

  • Most computer plugs are colour coded and will only plug in one way. Please pay special attention to the way they do plug in so as not to damage them by force.
  • USB plugs can go into any USB socket.
  • If you have two blue video sockets on the back of your computer, the horizontal plug (PCI-E Video Card) will take precedence over the vertical plug (onboard video).
  • Speakers connect to the green socket.
  • Microphone connects to the pink socket.
  • Your internet will usually connect to the large square hole that resembles a large telephone socket called ‘Ethernet”.

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Exert from the Camden Haven Courier: 
"PC Pitstop , known as ‘Your One Stop Computer Shop’ in Port Macqaurie and Lake Cathie, don’t just sell and repair computers, they also teach you how to use one!
Starting with the basics like General Computer Skills and Working with Word, this dynamic team are also providing lessons on how to use social media and Skype, working with photos and the essentials in emailing.
With new trainer, the multi-talented Sandra Smail in tow, class lessons cater for up to 5 people at either the Port Macquarie store in the Shores Retail Centre or at the Lake Cathie Village Centre Store.
Dedicated to empowering the public with technology, the Pitstop crew develop lessons based on popular demand and have a few exciting new topics to reveal soon!

Bookings are essential for these increasingly popular classes and can be made in store or online.

Not in the Hastings Region? No worries. Shop and Download our e-Books here.

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Class or One on One Lessons

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If one on one is more your style, or if you have very specific tasks you would like to learn more about, please contact Lake Cathie 65 84 555, or Port Macquarie 65 841 551 to make a booking between the hours of 9-5pm Mon-Fri.

A skilled, patient and friendly tutor will gladly help you through your questions step by step.

Enroll with a friend and learn together! The more popular the classes are, the more we will provide!

Click here >> Contact the Trainer - Sandra Smail

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