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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. Getting the most from your computer.jpg (5543 bytes)

Jackie has also written the two books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. 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, why not email her

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



Homing in

Q: What sorts of thing can I do to save time when using the Internet?

A: Once you start browsing the World Wide Web regularly, you'll find yourself repeating certain tasks. For example, I often go to my favourite search engine, www. to start searching for information. To speed up the process, I have now made this my Home Page so that it opens straight away whenever I connect to the Internet.

It is easy to make any page your Home Page. Once you have opened the page in the browser window, select View - Internet Options - General (Internet Explorer) or Edit - Preferences (Netscape) and click Use Current Page under the Home Page option.

If you know the address (URL) of your preferred page, you don't even have to connect to the Internet - simply open the browser menu, replace the existing Home Page address with the new one and click OK.

Why use a database

Q: My new computer has a database application on it. Can you explain why I might want to use it?

A: Most of us use databases regularly without thinking about it, because they are just a method for storing information about people or things in a systematic way. When you leaf through a seed catalogue, or look through an estate agent's details, you are using a database. (A card index filing system is the classic example.)

At home, computerised databases can be very useful for storing details of family and friends - not just names and addresses but birthdays, allergies, anniversaries, heights, and even what you gave them last year for Christmas. You can sort your records very easily and also search a large database quickly e.g. to find whose birthday is coming up next month.

If you run a club or society, databases are ideal for keeping track of the membership, payments and contact addresses, and if you are a collector e.g. of books or antiques you can keep details on your computer of everything in your collection.

To filter or to query?

Q: I have started to use a database but find searching quite confusing. What's the difference between filtering and querying? They both seem to do the same thing.

A: The two methods for searching databases are really quite different. Here are some of the basic differences:
a) Filters are temporary and can't be saved.
b) Filters don't allow you to limit the fields you display, or change their order.
c) Filters are carried out on open tables, but these need to be closed when designing queries.
d) Only queries can be used to search more than one table at a time.

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Not quite so capital

Q: I sometimes make a mistake and leave the Caps Lock on, so that my text is all in capitals. Is there a quick way to put this right?

A: There's a handy shortcut in Word that allows you to change text from capitals to lower case and even title case (initial capitals only). Select the text you want to change, hold down the Shift key and keep pressing the F3 function key at the top of your keyboard. You can now step through the alternatives until you reach the one you want. Then, simply click the mouse to take off the highlight. For other options, you'll need to open the Change Case dialog box from the Format menu.

Post it

Q: I've been asked to produce a poster for our village fete. I know I could do it in Word, but is there a better package?

A: I really enjoy using PowerPoint for posters. Although this software is designed primarily for showing a series of slides, it is very easy to use for a single page display. Select a blank slide layout and, if you want the page upright, go to File - Page Set up - Portrait.

Now you can insert WordArt to add text in bendy shapes and unusual shadow effects; pictures from the clipart gallery or saved e.g. from the Web; and text boxes or shapes that can be dragged round the page and bordered and filled with different colours or patterns.

Extra features not found in Word include a paragraph spacing button to close up or widen rows of text, and Font Size buttons to decrease or increase the size of your letters in steps as you watch the effect on screen.

Amazing effects

Q: I'm giving a talk in a few weeks' time and have decided to use PowerPoint. Is there one special effect you can recommend that I use?

A: One thing I think is great fun is to use the animation effects which let you build up a slide with 'moving' pictures accompanied by various noises.

Find your first picture - e.g. from Clipart - and size and position it where you want it to finish up on the slide. Then click Slide Show - Custom Animation. Under Effects - Entry animation and sound select the way it will appear (e.g. Fly from the Right), and the accompanying sound (e.g. Ricochet). Preview the effect and, if it looks OK, return to your slide and add the next picture. You can even position a picture in the grey area off the slide so that it flies across the screen and disappears from view.

Not exactly sophisticated, but it should raise a smile!


Aimed at first-time Internet users, the guide, co-written by TV personality Carol Vorderman and Internet expert Rob Young, offers a thorough and non-intimidating introduction to the Internet.

HTML 4 features clear and concise instructions   with well-captioned illustrations and screenshots that show both the source code and the resulting effect on the Web page

  Specifically written for UK Web users, this book will give you everything you'll need to know to put the Internet to work for you



Written from a UK perspective, the Guardian Guide to the Internet covers all the stock ground, including browser operation, FTP, Usenet, IRC and putting together a simple Web page

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

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Why not take out a regular subscription to one of the many web and IT magazines - delivered to your door.



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