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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life - 53

May 2005  

Getting the most from your computerYou 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.

Amazon book - Basic Computer Skills Made Simple: XP Version  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




Some Q and A`s for May..

Q: I use Outlook Express (OE) for my e-mails and need to acknowledge messages received when I am away on holiday or travelling. Is there a way to send an “out of office” message using this system?

A: Although OE is a cut-down version of Outlook, it does offer the option to set message rules and you could use these for your out-of-office messages in the following way.

  1. First create a word processed file containing your message. Save it as a Plain Text file somewhere that is easy to locate.

  2. Open the OE Tools menu and click Message Rules – Mail.

  3. Click New and in the top box (1. – Select the Conditions for your rule) click in the box next to the bottom option: “For all your messages”.

  4. In the middle box (2. – Set the Actions for your rule) select: “Reply with message”.

  5. In the bottom box, click the underlined word “message”. This will take you to the files on your computer. Change the file type you are looking for to Plain Text, find your message file, select it and click Open. Back in OE you will now see the filename listed instead of the word “message” in the bottom window.

  6. Give your rule a suitable name e.g. “Out of Office” and then save it before closing the Rules window.

  7. What will happen from the date the rule is applied is that, immediately you receive any messages, a reply will be prepared in your Outbox containing the text message you saved. You will have to be online all the time, or someone will have to connect your system regularly but then the sender will receive this holding message.

  8. Make sure you turn off the rule (by taking off the tick next to its name in the Message Rules box) when you get back home, or all future messages will be dealt with in the same way. Just turn it on again before your next trip.

Q: Do you have any advice for someone who keeps forgetting their passwords? I find it very hard to choose different words for the various websites I visit for shopping etc., but I know it is not a good idea to use the same word or to write any of them down and keep them nearby.

A: I am just like you but I think I have come up with the perfect method for keeping a range of different passwords safe and to hand.

  1. Decide on one password that means something to you and is actually two words e.g. wellkept, turnover, babyjane etc.

  2. Make the second word start with a capital e.g. wellKept, turnOver or babyJane. Passwords are case-sensitive so it is very important to type this letter as a capital every time.

  3. Now you can change your password regularly by adding a different number between the two words e.g. well14Kept, baby22Jane, turn48Over etc.

  4. For any website you visit, or for repeat visits when you feel it is time to change the password, use your basic password plus a random number. If you write down ONLY the name of the website and number on a piece of paper e.g. Sainsburys – 65 or Barclays – 22, someone finding it is going to find it very hard to do anything with it.

  5. In future you only have to remember the basic password and make sure you don’t lose your updated piece of paper.

Q: I enjoy computing and want to enrol at my local college to take one of the basic qualifications. Can you explain the difference between CLAIT and ECDL as I could do either?

A: Here is an overview of the two qualifications which I hope will help you make up your mind.






Level 1 (introduction) is called New CLAIT and you can progress to Level 2 (CLAITPlus) or Level 3 (Advanced) Next year it changes to CLAIT 2006 but you can still gain the different levels as they won’t be very different


Mixed Level 1/2 is ECDL but there is also an Advanced level course if you want to stretch yourself.



New CLAIT includes one compulsory unit (using a computer to create and print a file) and a choice from 9 others. You must take 4 to gain the qualification, chosen from Word processing, Spreadsheets, Databases, Charts, Computer Art, Presentations, E-Mail and Internet (or BBC Webwise), Desktop Publishing and Webpage creation.



You must take all 7 modules for this qualification and these cover Basic concepts of IT (a theoretical course), file management, word processing, spreadsheets and charts, databases, e-mail and Internet and presentations. There are no units on desktop publishing, computer art or Webpage creation.


The assessment involves a 2-hour test taken in normal classroom conditions where you carry out a range of tasks to produce an accurate printout of e.g. a word processed document, DTP publication or spreadsheet.



The tests are usually on-line and each one takes around 25 minutes. They will test your ability to carry out tasks using the correct menus, toolbar buttons or steps, rather than checking the accuracy of a finished product.

Courses are relatively cheap, usually offered by local FE colleges and are taught over several months e.g. 2 hours a week.


Courses are usually hundreds of pounds and studied on a self-help basis from books, internet websites or CD-ROMs, although a few places will offer taught courses.


CLAIT is only really recognised in the UK



ECDL (or ICDL) is now Europe and world-wide.




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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