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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life

April 2007

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


 April 2007



Bits and Bytes


Q: I get a bit confused with the size of things. Can you explain the difference between KB and MB, and tell me what I should be looking for when I buy new hardware.

A: It is very confusing, especially as so many zeros are concerned, so here is a simple table to show you the approximate size of different parts of a computer system. (Note that very often actual sizes are to a power of 2 because of the binary system employed in computer systems e.g. 1 kilobyte is actually 1024 bytes not 1000 but I have used common approximations in the table).

Size (approx) Item Comments/Examples
1 bit The smallest unit Stands for binary digit
1 byte = 8 bits The size of a single character The main unit of measure
1kilobyte (1KB) = 1,000 bytes A measure of half a page of text Usual measure of document size (Last month's column produced a Word document of 27.5KB)
1 megabyte (1MB) = one million bytes Some large documents and image files can be several megabytes A floppy disk can hold 1.44MB data and a CD-ROM can hold 650MB
512MB Common size of main memory (RAM)  
1 gigabyte (1GB) = one thousand million bytes Hard disk storage space Currently, you can buy PCs with an 80GB hard disk
4.7GB Typical DVD  

Going Digital

Q: I want to buy a digital camera. What should I look for?

A: Here are a few tips on buying a camera, but remember that it must suit your own needs and pocket:


  • The quality of pictures very much depends on their resolution. This is the number of pixels (small "dots") that make up the picture and is measured in millions (megapixels). More expensive cameras can capture more pixels, but that is only important if you want to print out extra-large pictures. For normal use, 4, 5 or 6-megapixel cameras should all be fine. You should be able to buy one for ?40 - ?80.

  • Look for a well-known make if you want a good lens. Most of the film, lens and camera companies you may have heard of (such as Fuji, Kodak, Leica, Minolta, Canon, Nikon, Olympus etc.) produce digital cameras of high quality.

  • If you are a bit wobbly, look for an image stabilisation feature that minimises camera shake.

  • Batteries don't last long, so does the camera have, or allow, the use of normal AA/rechargeables? Specialist batteries can be hard to find.

  • One brilliant feature not in old-fashioned cameras is the LCD (liquid crystal display) screen at the back. Not only does it act as a viewfinder, but in 'playback' mode you can scroll through your pictures as soon as they are taken. If some images are no good, delete them and take the shot again. Check the size of the screen – 2.5" is a good size.

  • Digital cameras store pictures on a slot-out memory card. There are a number of types to choose from, so ask in the shop if yours is standard in case you want to buy extra cards.

  • If you don't have a computer, don't worry. You may see the term "PictBridge enabled" which means that the camera can be fitted to a compatible printer and you can print your photos direct. You can also buy photo printers that take the memory card. Otherwise, take your card into a shop and use the self-help photo kiosk to print photos, cards, CDs or calendars.

There are lots of websites that review cameras and there are bargains available all the time. One site worth visiting is  which has a Camera Selector page where you can put in your preferred features and view a list of relevant cameras to buy.


Your Digital Camera Made Easy (Can Do! Computing for the Over 50s)




For more help, look out for my new book "Your Digital Camera Made Easy" published by Age Concern in the Spring.










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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