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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life


You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.  

Jackie has also written several books - you can find more details about these by clicking here. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.

Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too. Why not email her

March 2009


Q:  Sometimes when I try to open a Word document, I get an error message saying it is "read only", as it is being accessed by another user.  As I am the only one on the machine, what does this mean?

A:  What has probably happened is that, getting impatient for a document to open, you have clicked its name twice.  This means that, when the second one tries to open, the first is perceived as already open and being read.  All you need do is close the one that opens as read-only, and the first, normal one will pop up!



Q:  I am getting very confused about which version of programs I have on my machine.  Can you tell me how to find out and explain the difference between 2000 and 2002?  I need to know this to sort out a technical problem.

A:  It is extremely difficult for new users to get their heads round all these numbers, and this is especially the case when you have to understand that people may be talking about either the Operating system or an Application such as Word or Excel.


operating system

When it comes to the operating system, nowadays you are likely to be using a Windows machine that is running Windows 98, Windows 2000 NT, Windows ME, Windows XP or Windows Vista.  They will also have updates in the form of Service Packs associated with them, which are important if you want to run more modern programs. To find out which operating system and Service Pack you have, right-click your My Computer icon on the desktop and select Properties to see the machine details.

Microsoft has been bringing out a number of different versions of the Office suite of programs such as Excel, PowerPoint and Word, and these all have numbers.  You may have any of the following:  2000, 2002 (also known as XP), 2003 or 2007.


new versionMost people will not keep updating from one to the other as they are very similar and it will be an unnecessary cost, but if you have a computer at work or want to buy the software for the first time, you may well find yourself working with a different version. 

The important point to remember is that, if you are creating a document or spreadsheet using the latest version e.g. 2007, it will NOT be readable by someone with the 2000 or XP version on their machine unless you save it in that form first.





Q:  My machine seems to be running much slower than before.  What can I do about it?


A:  Over time, as programs are installed and deleted or files saved and moved, your hard disk becomes a mess of gaps.  When you try to access anything, it takes much longer for each item to be found.  The best treatment for this is to defrag the disk which is a method for sorting it out and closing up some of the gaps.

To do this, open My Computer, right click the hard disk (C:), select Properties and then click the tab labelled Tools.  Click the Defragment Now button and then follow the steps to analyse and defrag the machine.  It takes some time but should help improve its working speed.



View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

For a wealth of books on the web and IT generally, visit Amazon and under the books section select Computers and Internet.

Don't forget to visit the general laterlife features section called laterlife interest


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