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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life

July 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

July 2008 Laterlife

Saving money on phone bills

Q: Is there a way to save money on phone bills when I am asked to contact organisations through expensive 0870 or 0845 numbers? I have read somewhere that you can find alternative numbers on the internet.

A: What you must do is visit the website where you will find a simple method for finding if there is an alternative local number beginning 01 or 02.

For example, if you want to ring a bank such as Lloyds, first click the link at the top of the page that says "Search to find an alternative number." On the new page that opens, either type the company name or the 0870/0845 number you have been asked to use and press the Search button. search page

A list of alternative numbers you can try using should be displayed – although please note that sometimes there will be none available. search results page


Files saved in Paint Shop Pro

Q: I use the program Paint Shop Pro to edit my photos. When I try to save them, I am presented with a long list of file types I could use. Why are there so many, and which one should I choose?

A: As this is a graphics package, a wide range of image file types is offered to enable you to work across different programs. If you look through the list, you will find several file names begin with the word "portable", and you can save your pictures as PhotoShop files, Microsoft Paint files, Windows Metafiles (as in many clip art images), Tiff files (commonly used for scanned images) or files compatible with Macintosh machines. You will also be offered a specific Paint Shop Pro (psp) file type relevant to the program that retains the layers in which you work.

Save as screen

To choose the right file type to save in, you need to have the origin or final use of the picture in mind.

a. If you are sending a picture to someone by email, publishing it on the Web or just viewing it on a computer screen, it can be compressed and is usually going to be best as a JPEG.
b. If you want to continue editing the photo – perhaps stitching in bits from other pictures or changing colours/content – keep it as a PSP until you have finished. Then save as a JPEG. The layers will all be merged and you won't be able to work on them separately again.
c. As you lose detail each time you save a JPEG, you can keep as much detail as possible in your original camera or scanned pictures by saving them as larger TIFF or even basic RAW files and then make compressed copies to edit, publish or print.
d. To be able to work on the picture on a different type of computer or in a different package, choose an appropriate file type to save it in.


Text recognition

Q: Is there a way to transfer typed documents into digital format without having to retype everything?

A: The answer is to scan them using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – software built into most new scanners that interprets text and converts it into a word-processed format.

There are many programs available free on the Web if your scanner is too old to include it, or you can buy packages such as TextBridge Pro or OmniPage.

To use it, place your document into your scanner in the normal way and select the OCR option before scanning.

In the example below using a Brother all-in-one machine, the scanned image appeared in WordPad and I could have saved it here or as a Word file.

Brother Printer Control panel





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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