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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life - 59

November 2005                                                                 

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



November Q & A

Q: I am very confused about which book I should buy to use with my computer. How do I know if I am XP or 2000 etc?

A: The difficulty lies in the fact that you could be talking about your operating system or your Microsoft Office software.

Operating systems for PCs at the moment can be Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000 (more likely in office or educational establishments than for home use machines and often referred to as NT) or Windows XP (commonly found in new machines bought from high street stores at the present time).


To find out what you are running, right-click the My Computer icon on your desktop and select Properties. You will then see what version you have.

If you want help with your word processing, spreadsheets or databases, then you must look on the CD for your version of Microsoft Office. These can be MS Office 97, 2000, 2002 (also known as the Office XP suite) or 2003.


If you don't have the CD to hand, open one of the programs, click on the Help menu and select About Microsoft Word/Excel etc. You will then see what version of the software you are running.


Q: Where do you generally find telephone numbers and addresses on websites? I recently wanted to phone an internet shop and couldn't find contact details anywhere.

A: It is sad that they are often so hard to find, as you can easily take your business elsewhere. There are no rules but I think the best ploy, if there is no Contact Us link, is to click on links to information about the company itself – often labelled "About Us". You will usually find further links here to ways of contacting them as well as location maps and policies on how they carry out their business.

Q: Can you explain how to create complicated drawings where different objects are visible at the same time? Is there a 'transparent' option?

A: When building up a diagram or drawing, each object can be positioned in front of or behind another, and can be set as semi or fully transparent. Follow these steps to have a go yourself:

a. Click a shape button on the Drawing toolbar such as a rectangle or circle, or click the AutoShapes button and select from the range on offer. (If the toolbar is missing, right-click the empty space on any toolbar and select Drawing.)

b. Click and hold down your mouse on screen and drag it out. The pointer will show a small cross and the shape you chose will slowly appear. To make changes, always make sure a shape is selected (showing small boxes round the edge.)

c. Draw another shape and move it by dragging with your mouse so that it is half over your first shape. If you want it behind the first shape, open the Draw menu and select Order – Send to Back. Once you have a number of shapes on the page, you may need to select Send Backward to move it back one layer at a time. Reverse the order by selecting a Bring in Front option.




d. If the top shape is coloured and you don't want a solid colour, click the arrow next to the paint pot (Fill Colour) and choose No Fill. This will immediately show the underlying shapes.


e. To see one shape behind another but keep some colour, open the Format menu and select AutoShape. On the Colours and Lines tab, change the level of transparency by dragging the slider or setting your own percentage.




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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