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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life

February 2008


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



February 2008


Q: I use Excel but get confused with all the error messages. Can you explain some of the more common ones?

A: These usually appear when you try to create a formula and get something wrong. Here are the five errors you are most likely to encounter:

#NAME? – this appears when a text entry such as the name of a cell, or the function name, is misspelt, or you leave out the colon in a range of cells.

#VALUE! – this means you have made an incorrect entry, for example text instead of a number

##### - this simply means the column is not wide enough to display the result of a calculation. Just widen the column and the answer will appear

#DIV/0! – you will see this if you try to divide a number by 0 or by the address of a blank cell

Circular reference – when you enter the cell address of the cell where the calculation will be performed, rather than the range of cells alongside, this is the result. You need to change the final cell address entry in the range and the calculation can then be performed.



Q: What are podcasts and how do they work?


A: This is the name given to audio files e.g. radio programs that you can download onto your computer or audio player and listen to whenever you want to. The most well-known provider of podcasts is the BBC, but you can also find them on many websites. (Videos are available in a similar way and are referred to as vodcasts.)

If you want to receive podcasts on a regular basis, you can subscribe to them free and, each week, the next instalment will be sent to your computer automatically.

To receive podcasts, you first have to download appropriate software such as iTunes, Google Reader or one of the many strangely-named programs available free such as those found at Then just visit the appropriate web page, click to download a single program or subscribe and you will receive the program regularly.

Nowadays, there are even websites such as Podnova or PodBlaster devoted to organising and listing favourite podcasts so you can find one easily.



Q: I want to switch to a different utility provider. Do you have any advice about the best way to do this?


A: I am afraid I am no expert on how companies price their supplies, but I do know that it is very easy to switch online and you may even be paid to do so! 

Before you start, dig out a few old bills so you know how much gas or electricity you are using, what you are spending with your current supplier, or what your monthly fixed payments are. Then visit one of the many comparison sites.

According to Martin Lewis of , some companies recently offering cash-back if you switch through them include Energyhelpline, Moneysupermarket and Uswitch, so visit those sites first to check what they are offering and then carry out the comparison. All you need do is enter your postcode, address and supplier details and they work out how much you can save.

If you choose to go ahead, no physical processes are involved as it is all done on paper by the various head offices. You have 7 days in which to change your mind once you agree to switch, and they will then switch you over in about 6 – 8 weeks. Read the terms and conditions, but usually you can switch again after 28 days without penalty, if your supplier suddenly decides to increase prices. (Important if you don't want to stay with nPower and then your new supplier follows the recent price rise).

For many other money-saving tips, why not enter your email address on Martin Lewis's website and get his regular updates?




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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