Universal Class : Free online non-credit courses for your personal enrichment, accessible 24/7 via the Internet! Computer courses include Adobe Photoshop, Computer Basics, Digital Photography, How to Create Web Pages, Internet Fundamentals, Microsoft Office, Quickbooks & Quicken, and more! You will have up to 6 months to finish each course, and each course has a real instructor you can communicate with by email! NOTE: Once you have registered on the site, you can go directly to the Login page. (From Recorded Books; site includes advertisements)
Annoyances - 'The most complete collection of information assembled for and by actual users of Microsoft Windows,' offering many tips and tweaks to make your Windows operating system more efficient and less annoying; includes discussion boards. Computer Hope (by Nathan Emberton) and How-To Geek (author unknown) also offer helpful computer advice and discussion boards. (Sites include advertisements)
Computer Buying Guide - Guidance in choosing laptop or desktop, Windows or Macintosh, plus other information to help you buy and use your computer (May 2012, Consumer Reports; full access only available with subscription). See also Consumer Reports News : Computers & Internet the latest computer news and developments from Consumer Reports' computer experts. Before you get rid of your old PC, cell phone, or mobile device, see Safe Computer Disposal and E-Cycling links, below.
Computer Dictionary - Over 6,000 computer definitions and terms; you can search by keyword or browse alphabetically (Computer Hope). What Is? is another dictionary of computer-related terms; search by keyword, or browse alphabetically or by broad subject (TechTarget, an online technology media company; site includes advertisements). Trend Micro's Security Glossary defines dozens of terms specifically related to online security, such as ActiveX, boot sector virus, and Worm. See also E-Mail, Web, and Chat Room Slang and Acronyms, below.
Computer Rage - If computer-related aggravations have you tearing your hair out, get some vicarious & hilarious relief from these comic videos. (Dr. Kent Norman, Psychology Professor at University of Maryland)
Computer Tips - A large collection of computer tips and how-tos arranged by subject. Covers privacy & security; Internet, websites and e-mail; tricks, troubles and upgrades; operating systems; hardware; software and programs; and digital photos, video & music. Some content is available only to paid subscribers. (By Kim Komando, radio talk show host and syndicated columnist; site includes advertisements)
Consumer Electronics Customer Support Contact Numbers - An alphabetical list of companies with customer support numbers, plus links to home page, support page, user manuals, support e-mail, and FAQ for each company, where available. Includes manufacturers of computers, personal electronics, digital entertainment products, software producers, and internet & media service providers. Last updated in April 2009. (Techlore.com; site includes advertisements)
DownRightNow - Have you ever had a problem connecting to Facebook, Google, YouTube, or other popular websites, and wondered if the trouble originated from the website itself, from your ISP, or from your own equipment? DownRightNow monitors the status of your favorite web services to tell you when there's service trouble. You can also file a report on the site to let others know when you've encountered a bug or outage.
E-Cycling - Basic information about reducing & recycling electronics, information about regional & state e-cycling programs, organizations & major retailers / manufacturers with donation & recycling programs, and more (U.S. EPA). For advice on how to remove personal data from your old PC, cell phone, or mobile device before you donate, recycle or trash it, see Safe Computer Disposal links, below. See Greener Choices Electronics provides solutions for dealing with old electronics, plus tips for buying new electronics that may last longer, and related information. (Consumer Reports). Recycle It Right outlines environmentally-friendly ways to get rid of electronic equipment that you no longer use (Electronics TakeBack Coalition). The South Plainfield Public Library accepts cell phones and empty ink & toner cartridges from computer printers or copiers for recycling — your donations help the library! Click here for info on the South Plainfield Consumer Electronics Recycling Drop-off Program. Cell Phones for Soldiers will provide prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas in exchange for your donated cell phones ('batteries, chargers and accessories are not required but gladly accepted'). Or you can opt for Recycling for Charities, which will recycle your old cell phone, PDA, digital camera, iPod, ink or toner cartridge, to benefit the charity of your choice. See LampRecycle.org to find out where you can recycle Compact Flourescent Light bulbs (CFLs), and how to handle broken bulbs safely. See also Recycling and Disposal After a CFL Burns Out [UPDATED LINK!] and What to Do if a CFL Breaks in Your Home (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). For additional recycling links and related information, see our Green Shopping, Fair Trade, and Recycling links.
FCC Reboot - Consumer information about telephone, TV, and internet service, including bills & charges, accessibility, wireless/cellular/mobile services, digital TV, cable & satellite, internet security, emergency communications, and more. (Federal Communications Commission)
GCF Global Learning® Free Online Tutorials - Self-paced tutorials covering computer basics, Internet basics, e-mail skills, and even social media (Facebook, Twitter), as well as Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access) and Open Office software; includes MS Office 2010 and Windows 7. Now offers free mobile apps for learning MS Office 2010 from your Android or iPhone! (Goodwill Community Foundation)
Long Live Your Laptop Battery! - Advice on what you can do to keep your laptop battery working for as long as possible, and keeping the battery going longer between charges. (PC World; site includes advertisements)
Microsoft Download Center - Gateway to updates & extras for Microsoft products including games, multimedia, Internet Explorer, Windows, Office, Windows Phone, drivers, system tools, and more (Microsoft). For many other kinds of downloads, see CNET Software Downloads, below.
Old Version - Are you still using an older computer that can't handle the latest versions of some popular software? Do you just prefer the older version of your favorite browser, media, or mail program? At this site you can download early versions of many Windows-based freeware and shareware programs such as Internet Explorer, AOL Instant Messenger, Acrobat Reader, Eudora, Winamp, WinZip, and RealPlayer (site includes advertisements). [CAUTION : Be aware that outdated versions of software may be less secure than current versions. Always scan downloads with a reliable anti-virus / anti-spyware program before opening them.]
PC World Magazine - Technology news, product reviews, and how-tos. (Site includes advertisements)
Smart Computing - Digital archive of the print magazine from 2009 to the present. (Sandhills Publishing Company; site includes advertisements)
Readability - 'Readability is a web & mobile app that zaps online clutter and saves web articles in a comfortable reading view.' It will also display the text in a size that doesn't require a magnifying glass to read! Some features are available only to paid subscribers. (By Arc90, a technology / design firm)
TechSoup - 'A comprehensive source of technology information just for non-profit organizations,' but also useful for individuals and small businesses. Includes free downloads and other tools.
If you are an ABSOLUTE BEGINNER, find a friend, relative, or librarian to help you get started with these sites:
Good Typing - Using a computer keyboard can really slow you down if you don't know how to type. This online tutorial offers step-by-step lessons for beginners. [FREE REGISTRATION REQUIRED.] Another good typing tutorial site is Peter's Online Typing Course.
Mouserobics! - This site teaches you everything you always wanted to know about using your mouse: how to point, click and scroll; use check-off boxes, radio buttons, and drop-down menus; fill in forms; and copy and paste text. Lots of opportunities to practice. Formerly Mousercise. (Central Kansas Library System)
New User Tutorial - If you've never used a computer before, these lessons are for you! Covers pointing, clicking, scrolling, etc. (The Library Network, Southgate, MI)
Once you've mastered your mouse, it's time to move on to:
Using Microsoft Windows®
Computer Basics - 'Are you new to using computers? Do you wonder what people mean when they say the Cloud, Windows, Blackberry, Lion, etc.? Perhaps you would just like to know more about how computers work? When it comes to learning today's technology, Computer Basics has all the basic concepts covered.' (Goodwill Community Foundation)
Computer Literacy 101 - 'Consider this set of lessons "Beginning Driver's Ed" for the computer. What might be covered in a Driver's Education course in high school? How the engine works. Parts of the car. How to turn it on. How to shift gears. Rules of the road. Laws. Proper signaling. Lane changing. Basic maintenance. Changing a flat. Filling up with gas. Some clues on when "You'd better stop the car now!"' (By Jan Smith; site includes advertisements)
Raw Computers : Getting to Know Your Computer - An online multimedia presentation explaining the basics of using a computer, including the mouse, keyboard, icons & windows, music & photos, printing, and how to set up a comfortable workstation. If you prefer (or if you do not have a high-speed internet connection), you can view the tutorial in text and photos by clicking on 'Basic Version' at the bottom of the screen. (BBC)
Getting Started with Computers
64-bit vs. 32-bit Operating Systems - 'You're probably aware that 64-bit and 32-bit versions of your operating system exist, but you may have no idea what separates the two. The question : Should you use a 64-bit version of Windows, and why?' (Lifehacker.com)
Windows Basics - Learn how to do basic tasks with the Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 operating systems. (By Jan Smith; site includes advertisements)
Windows Secrets - High-tech tips, reviews of Windows-compatible products (including free software), plus a free weekly e-newsletter with tricks and alerts for Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Windows Update, and more.
Windows 7 How-Tos - Advice on using the Windows 7 operating system. Covers Disabling Features & Annoyances, Networking & Sharing, Privacy & Security, Shortcuts & Hotkeys, and other Windows 7 Tips (How-To Geek; site includes advertisements). See also Windows 7 Help & How-to (Microsoft), Windows 7 for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, Inc.; site includes advertisements), Tips for Windows 7, Word 2007, & More, and Five Reasons Some XP Users Should Hold Off On Windows 7 (2009, PC World; site includes advertisements). Windows 7 Power Users Guide is a free PDF eBook providing more in-depth information for non-technical users; by Mike Halsey, a British IT professional.
Windows 8 How-Tos - Advice on using the new Windows 8 operating system (How-To Geek; site includes advertisements). See also Meet Windows 8 (Microsoft), Windows 8 for Dummies (Wiley Publishing, Inc.; site includes advertisements), and Windows 8 brings tablet features to PCs, but it's not for everybody (Consumer Reports).
Windows Vista How-Tos - Advice on using the Windows Vista operating system. Covers Desktop Customization, Managing Files and Folders, Network and Internet, Security, System Administration, Windows Aero Glass, Tips and Tweaks (How-To Geek; site includes advertisements). See also Microsoft's Windows Vista® Performance & Tuning Guide (for Windows Vista and SP1), 20 Free Downloads to Tweak & Improve Your Vista System, and Vista SP2 : Six Things You Need to Know (2007 - 2008, PC World; site includes advertisements).
Choosing an Internet Service Provider (ISP) - Explains the pluses and minuses of dialup, DSL, and cable internet service. Comparing Internet Service Providers outlines the questions you need to ask to find an ISP that meets your needs. See also Internet 101: Connecting to the Internet (Goodwill Community Foundation), Shopping for High-Speed Internet Service (2011, OnGuardOnline.gov), and Broadband Speeds : What You Need to Know (2010, Federal Communications Commission).
Go2Broadband - Enter your address to get links to cable services available at your location. (From a cable industry association)
Wi-Fi-FreeSpot™ Directory - A listing of locations such as airports, hotels, and other businesses which offer Free Wireless High Speed Internet Access. Covers US, Europe, and other regions of the world. You can use WiFi at the South Plainfield Public Library. To protect yourself when using wireless networks, see Wireless Security, below.
Can you trust Wikipedia? - The Guardian newspaper (UK) surveyed a panel of experts on the accuracy and usefulness of entries in the popular Wikipedia online encyclopedia in 2005. Their findings sound a cautionary note about the reliability of some internet resources. See also See Who's Editing Wikipedia (2007, Wired Magazine), and the page on Criticism of Wikipedia in Wikipedia itself.
Evaluating Web Pages - How do you know if the information you're finding on the Web is accurate and up-to-date? This site tells you how to find out. (Ohio State University Libraries)
Internet 101 - This introductory course explains what the internet is, how it is used, how to connect to the internet, and how to use web browsers & search engines. Visit the Internet Basics page to learn more about using the internet, including e-mail, online safety, and Facebook (Goodwill Community Foundation). See also Net Tutor, below.
Internet Tutorials - Though this site does include explanations of basic internet terms and concepts, intermediate and experienced web searchers will find its tutorials on more advanced research techniques particularly useful. (By Laura B. Cohen, academic librarian)
Net Tutor - A complete online course in how to use the Internet. Lessons include Getting Started on the Web, E-Mail Basics, Searching 101, and more. (Ohio State University Libraries)
Netiquette Guide (Online Etiquette) - Tips to help you understand the written and unwritten codes of behavior for online communications such as chat rooms, blogs, personal 'spaces', forums, e-mail, instant messaging, and text messaging (About.com, IAC/InterActiveCorp; site includes advertisements). See Emily Post's Tech Etiquette to learn about manners for personal mobile devices, texting, email, social networking and more. See also Cyberethics (Microsoft).
Bing vs. Google - 'Want to compare Bing & Google results? ...Just put your query in the search box and press Enter. You'll see results from both engines side by side.' (Personal site: by web developer Domagoj Pavlesic)
Deep Web Tutorial - Describes the 'Deep Web' (also called the 'Invisible Web') and how to access it. The 'Deep Web' is that part of the Internet where ordinary web search engines don't or can't go, including databases, media/non-text files, and new or frequently changing content (2013; by Laura B. Cohen, academic librarian). See also Research Beyond Google, a guide to searching the 'invisible web' to find authoritative information sources on a variety of subjects (2013, Online Education Database; site includes advertisements).
Foreign Search Engine Colussus - Links to search engines and web directories in hundreds of countries around the world; organized by country.
Google - One of the best and most popular search engines also offers Soople, Google's easy search tool, or Google's list of special features for focused searches on movies, news, special file types, phone book, weather, and more. Google Labs, which previewed new services in development, is being phased out. Google Directory has also been discontinued. Additional Google Products include image search, book search, University search, shopping, blogger, maps, and various other useful tools. There is also a Google Blog Search and Google Mobile App for your smartphone.
Internet Archive - Many otherwise vanished web pages and similar 'born-digital' materials (or older versions of them) are still available at the Internet Archive. You can search the site for obsolete web pages, texts, audio, moving images, and software.
Ixquick Metasearch - Ixquick is a search engine that does not permanently store your personal user data (such as your search terms, links chosen, your IP address, User ID cookies, etc.). Read more about this feature on Ixquick's Privacy Protection page. Ixquick performs a metasearch using many popular search engines, including Ask/Teoma, MSN, Wikipedia, Netscape, Yahoo, and others (but not Google). Duck Duck Go is another search engine that claims to provide 'way more instant answers, way less spam and real privacy.'
Pandia - Extensive list of search engines and directories. Pandia's own search tools are not recommended.
Search.com - Search Google, Ask.com, MSN, and DMOZ all at once with this meta-search engine.
Search 22 - This site allows you to search 22 different search engines (including Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask) while entering your search terms only once, but you still must search the search engines one at a time. Options include regular search engines, meta-search engines, file search, news search, job search and more.
Yahoo! - Extensive and popular web directory. Yahoo Everything is an alphabetical index to all the different kinds of searches, resources, products, and services available through Yahoo, including Yahoo! Video and Yahoo! Music searches. There is also a Yahoo Mobile feature for your cell phone or PDA.
More Search Engines & Web Directories:
Search Engines & Web Directories for Kids:
For more advice on protecting your privacy and security when using e-mail or social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), see Protecting Yourself & Your Family, below.
BCC : Blind Carbon Copies - Do you forward jokes, photos, or other email messages to your family, friends, and co-workers? BCC, or blind carbon copy, allows you to protect their privacy when you do. Unlike addresses in the To: field or the CC: (carbon copy) field, addresses in the BCC: field cannot be seen by other users. This page explains how, when, and why you should use BCC. (US-CERT, Department of Homeland Security)
E-Mail Basics Tutorial - Online tutorials teach you the essentials of email, in addition to other popular ways to communicate online in today's world. (Goodwill Community Foundation)
E-Mail Etiquette - 'Although we use e-mail on a daily basis to conduct business, make plans with friends, and to keep in touch with family, there are no official rules on how to compose or send messages. This can lead to e-mail messages that are irritating or frustrating. By practicing basic e-mail etiquette, you can help stop the spread of problematic e-mail' (Microsoft). Emily Post's Computers and Communication Etiquette offers a variety of tips for using email and related technologies correctly, safely and effectively.
Free E-Mail Services - Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will include one or more free e-mail accounts as part of your internet service package. For those without an ISP, this extensive directory provides a brief description of alternate e-mail providers. Also includes articles and tips for using e-mail, plus other related information (site includes advertisements). GMail (Google), Yahoo, and Microsoft Outlook.com [UPDATED LINK!] (formerly Microsoft Hotmail, Windows Live Hotmail, MSN Hotmail) are popular providers of free e-mail service (Sites include advertisements). See also Snoop-Proof E-mail, a list of e-mail providers offering secure, encrypted e-mail services (Electronic Privacy Information Center).
Overcoming E-Mail Overload - Practical tips to help you efficiently manage e-mail on the job; many of these tips will be helpful for management of your personal e-mail, too. (2005, NPR; includes both audio and text versions; site includes advertisements)
Social Media How-To [UPDATED LINK!] - Up-to-date advice on making the most of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and more. New articles are added frequently. (PC World; site includes advertisements)
Social Media Tutorials (GCF Global Learning®) - 'Social media is the blending of technology and social interaction for the purpose of communication and co-creation in today's world. Knowing how to use social media is an essential 21st century skill that you can acquire with our new social media topics.' This site offers self-paced tutorials covering Facebook, Skype, Twitter, chat, blogging, and more. (Goodwill Community Foundation)
Spam for Consumers [UPDATED LINKS!] - Help and info on dealing with spam and spam scams (Federal Trade Commission et al.). SpamCop, a free service for reporting spam (or 'junk' e-mail) to network administrators (Ironport Systems, Inc.) offers more help with spam. How Spam Works explains how spammers get your e-mail address, and why so much annoying spam can get past your spam filter and wind up in your inbox. (HowStuffWorks, Inc.)
Cell Phone Health Risks [Link opens a PDF document] - Explains the need for caution in the use of cell phones, based on advice from an international expert panel (2008, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute). See also Piercing the Fog Around Cellphones and Cancer, which reviews the current evidence on this issue (2011, New York Times; site includes advertisements) and Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use (2012, Environmental Working Group).
Disposal : The 411 on Disposing of Your Old Cell Phone - Explains how to safely dispose of cell phones and other mobile devices (2012, Federal Trade Commission).
Emily Post's Tech Etiquette - Learn about correct manners for using personal mobile devices, texting, email, social networking and more. See also Ten Commandments for Mobile Manners (Kim Komando, radio talk show host and syndicated columnist; site includes advertisements).
Kids and Mobile Phones - Advice for parents on helping children use cell phones safely (OnGuardOnline.gov, Federal Trade Commission)). See also NetSmartz Cell Phones (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America), Smartphone Guide for Parents of Tweens and Teens (Lary Magid, broadcaster and syndicated columnist), Kids with Phones (by Wired Safety, a non-profit/volunteer organization), and Cell Phone Safety Tips [UPDATED LINK!] (PTA). For a review of health risks, see Cell Phone Health Risks, above. For translations of text-messaging acronyms, see E-Mail, Web, and Chat Room Slang and Acronyms, below.
Mobile Privacy : Lots of Big Brothers, Little Clarity - 'What do you call software that collects and sends information about you to its developers, advertisers, and others? On a desktop, we're likely to name it spyware. But on a cell phone, tablet, or other mobile device we call it an app - never realizing that it might be operating much like spyware.' This article explains how services use mobile devices to track you, how data is shared among data services, and how safeguards differ among mobile platforms (2011, Windows Secrets; site includes advertisements). Best Practices for Safe Mobile Device Usage offers advice on the best practices for smartphone safety, the dangers of smartphone apps, and privacy on smartphones & mobile devices (Identity Theft Resource Center; non-profit organization). Cell Phone Privacy is a collection of articles about privacy issues related to cell phone and smartphone use, with information on how to protect your personal information (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse; non-profit organization).
Stay Safe Online : Mobile Devices - Outlines the precautions you should take to safely connect to the internet using mobile devices. (National Cyber Security Alliance)
Text Messaging on your Cell Phone - Explains the basics of using the numbers on a cell phone keypad as a keyboard to send and receive short messages (2003; The College of New Jersey). You can also watch an instructional video about How to Send Text Messages on Cell Phones , plus many related videos & articles on the e-How website.
BoogieJack - HTML tutorials, CSS tutorials, web graphics and other resources for webmasters. (By Dennis Gaskill, a web designer; site includes advertisements)
Building a School Website - Designed for beginners, this site clearly explains the basic concepts of creating a simple web page. Does not cover CSS or other more advanced elements of web design. (2007; Author site, formerly HTML in 5 Easy Pieces; by 'Wanda Wigglebits' / aka Jeanne Follman of Envision Group Consulting)
Flash Video Tutorials : Go to and Learn - Free video tutorials on creating a wide variety of video and image effects with Adobe Flash, Flex, and Air. (By Lee Brimelow, a web developer at Adobe)
In Pictures - Simple, easy-to-follow, illustration-based tutorials. Includes sections on HTML & CSS, MySQL Basics, PHP Basics, and Perl Basics. (No author name or credentials provided; site includes advertisements.)
J-Learning - Well-organized, informative tutorials on how to plan, build, and promote your website, with links to related resources. Written for journalists but most of the material will be useful to anyone putting together a website. Use the left-hand menu to navigate. (American University)
Media Software Tutorials and Handouts - Online reference resources & web-based tutorials on web page building, image editing, audio & video projects, and electronic publishing. (State University of New York)
Webmaster Tools & Generators - Free online tools to help you easily create Flash navigational bars, Flash ToolTips, Flash Status Bars, Flash Drop-Downs, Flash Topbars and CSS Navbars; plus a directory of links to additional tools, tutorials, and web certification programs (American Association Of Webmasters). Web Design Tools links to all kinds of useful tools for the advanced web designer, including tools for accessibility, color, CSS, HTML validation, link checkers, XML, and more (University of Minnesota).
World's Worst Website - 'This web was designed to graphically demonstrate the most common mistakes made by new Web Page designers.' View it if you dare!
AlternativeTo - This website is aimed at 'helping you find the right software for your computer, mobile phone or tablet. Our main focus is to give you alternatives to software you already know and want to replace... based on our users recommendations.' OSalt is a directory of free open source software alternatives to well-known commercial software. Lifehacker : Superior Alternatives to Crappy Windows Software recommends which common software you should avoid, and what you should replace it with; for Macs, see Lifehacker : Superior Alternatives to Crappy OS X Software. (Sites includes advertisements)
Best Free Software, Mobile Apps, and Web Services, 2012 - PC Magazine's 'annual roundup of free stuff includes dozens of no-cost services, apps, and programs that are worth your time' (PC Magazine; site includes advertisements). See also Netted by the Webbys (includes advertisements) and AppScout (PC Magazine; site includes advertisements).
CNET Software Downloads - One-stop source for software downloads (Windows, Mac, and mobile) and software reviews. Offers a huge number of free downloads; others are free to try, or for purchase only. Software categories include security, browsers, business, communications, desktop enhancements, developer tools, drivers, digital photo, educational, entertainment, games, graphic design, internet, home & hobby, MP3 & audio, networking, productivity, screensavers & wallpaper, utilities & operating systems, and video software. CAUTION: Always scan downloads with a reliable anti-virus / anti-spyware program before opening them. (CNET.com, a CBS Interactive site; site includes advertisements)
Excel Tutorial - Step-by-step instruction in the basics of using Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet program (By Dr. Sharon Garrison, a University of Arizona professor). See also Easy Excel 2010 Tutorial (author unknown).
Free Microsoft eBooks - More than 60 free Microsoft eBooks for businesses, home users, web developers, and IT professionals. Covers a wide variety of programs including SharePoint, Visual Studio, Windows Phone, Windows 7, Windows 8, Office 365, Office 2010, SQL Server 2012, Azure, and more. A related page lists More Free Microsoft eBooks and Resource Kits on SharePoint 2013, Office 2013, Office 365, Duet 2.0, Azure, Cloud, Windows Phone, Lync, Dynamics CRM, and more. (Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Partner Experience) [NOTE : Site may be slow to load.]
GCF Global Learning® Free Online Tutorials - Self-paced tutorials covering basic computer, Internet, and e-mail skills, as well as Microsoft Office programs (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access) and Open Office software. Now includes Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 versions (Goodwill Community Foundation). See also In Pictures, below.
Gizmo's Top Picks of the Best Utilities and Tech Resources - A useful annotated selection of links to free PC information, how-to guides, utility programs, and more. (Personal site, by Ian 'Gizmo' Richards and a group of volunteer editors)
HP Learning Center [UPDATED LINK] - How-to advice on connectivity, security, PC health, software, entertainment, digital photography and more (Hewlett-Packard; site includes lots of advertising for HP products). HP LIFE e-Learning [UPDATED LINK], formerly HP Business Learning Center, is a free online training program that 'helps you gain the real-life IT and business skills needed to start or grow your business, in your own time, at your own pace. The courses are interactive and full of information and practical exercises that will give you the skills to meet the business challenges you face.' Free registration required (Hewlett-Packard).
In Pictures - Simple, easy-to-follow, illustration-based tutorials for Microsoft Office 2003 & 2007 and Open Office, plus web design & web programming basics. (No author name or credentials provided; site includes advertisements.)
Learn List - A directory of selected links to tutorials on Photoshop, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, and a few other graphic design programs, as well as PHP, CSS and XML. (By Chris Robinson, a graphic designer)
MS Office 2007 Tutorials - This site offers outstanding lessons, basics through advanced, for using Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and Power Point software (Florida Gulf Coast University). GCF Global Learning® Free Online Tutorials, described above, also offers tutorials on Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 programs (as well as older versions) - Office 2013 coming soon!
Online Practice Modules - Basic tutorials for a number of popular software programs including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, DreamWeaver, and Windows & Mac operating systems, though not the latest versions. (By teachers Susan Brooks and Bill Byles; site includes advertisements)
Open Office - Free downloadable software, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program. 'An Open Source, community-developed, multi-platform (Windows, Mac, etc.) office productivity suite.' GCF Global Learning® Free Online Tutorials, described above, also offers tutorials on Open Office programs. AbiWord is another good, free, multi-platform word-processing program.
PDF Online Converter, Zamzar Free Online File Conversion, and You Convert It - Allow users to transform computer files from their original file format to a different file format - for example, you can convert a file in DOC format to a PDF, or convert a PDF to HTML. The Online OCR Service extracts text from PDF or image files (JPG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, GIF) and converts it into editable Word, Text, Excel, PDF, or HTML formats! OnlineOCR.net is free in 'Guest mode' (without registration), allowing you to convert 15 images per hour. To convert a PDF document into a .jpg image, try Convert PDF to Image. For more free PDF conversion tools, see PDFConverter.com. [CAUTION: Always scan e-mail attachments and downloads with a reliable anti-virus / anti-spyware program before opening them.]
WordTalk - A useful tool for those with reading difficulties, this free Windows plugin for Microsoft Word will speak the text of a document and highlight it as it goes. Works with all versions from Word 97 to Word 2010, Windows 98 through Windows 8. (Hosted by CALL Scotland, Communication and Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities, University of Edinburgh; conceived and developed by Rod Macaulay)
Cell Phones & Mobile Devices
Digital Pictures - Basic lessons in taking, printing, and sharing digital photos (Kodak). See also Digital Photography Tips and Ideas (Hewlett Packard). Short Courses is a comprehensive online guide to digital cameras, digital photography, and digital video (by author/photographer Dennis P. Curtin; site includes advertisements). BigHugeLabs.com's Flickr Toys, Games & Utilities offers a large collection of free tools you can use to make calendars, posters, trading cards, wallpaper, 'lolcats' and lots of other fun stuff with your digital photos (site includes advertisements).
Digital Tips [NOTE : Buying Guides could not be viewed when checked April 2013.] - This website unashamedly promotes the joys of owning and using consumer electronics, but there is also some useful information to be found amid the puffery, including articles, tips & how-to videos for audio, digital TV, digital imaging, home networking, car and wireless electronic products (Consumer Electronics Association). CNET offers up-to-date How-To Tips for your phone, tablet, computer, home theater and the Web, and product reviews for camcorders, cell phones, computers & peripherals, digital cameras, home audio & video players, MP3 players, TVs, appliances, and much more (CNET.com, a CBS Interactive site; site includes advertisements.).
Digital TV Transition - All full-power television stations nationwide have been broadcasting exclusively in a digital format since 2009. If you're still using an analog TV set, or are having problems related to the digital transition, this site provides information and resources, including troubleshooting info. (Federal Communications Commission).
Electronics Recyling - Links to information on recycling electronic products.
Electronics Buying Guides - These general buying guides from Consumer Reports are free to everyone [NOTE : Only paid subscribers have online access to ratings and repair records for specific products.] : Digital Camera Buying Guide, Computer Buying Guide, and Cell Phones & Services Buying Guide. See also Consumer Reports Electronics News (Consumer Reports)
Gizomodo, the Gadget Guide - Tech blog featuring analysis of the newest technology & gadget news, expert reviews reviews & tips for using apps & gadgets, and more. Covers hi-tech gadgets from iPhone to Roomba. (Gawker Media; site includes advertisements)
Guide to Cables, Connectors and Ports - This handy illustrated guide shows all kinds of computer, audio, & video connections and explains what each one is for. (Hewlett-Packard; site includes lots of advertising for HP products).
Juice Podcast Receiver - This free, open-source software for downloading and managing audio podcast subscriptions is an easy-to-use alternative to iTunes. A great option for finding podcasts you'll enjoy is Podbay, where you can search or browse for podcasts, read descriptions & reviews for each podcast, find links to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, download or listen to individual episodes on your PC, iPhone or Android, and visit the podcast's website.
Media College - Free instructional resources for all forms of electronic media, including video & television production, audio work, photography, graphics, and web design. Hundreds of tutorials, plus reference material, free downloads, and a helpful forum. (By Wavelength Media, a New Zealand multimedia production company; site includes advertisements)
MediaShift - 'A weblog that tracks how new media — from weblogs to podcasts to citizen journalism — are changing society and culture.' Updated frequently. (PBS; site includes advertisements)
Emily Post's Tech Etiquette to learn about manners for personal mobile devices, texting, email, social networking and more.
Preserve Your Digital Materials - Basic advice on how to preserve your digital photos, audio & video, email, personal records, and websites. (Library of Congress)
Techlore - User-contributed how-to articles on using home theater equipment, portable audio / video, PDAs, phones, satellite radio, cameras & camcorders, gaming systems, and more. Also includes discussion forums. (Capable Networks LLC; site includes advertisements)
VoIP Phone Service Fact Sheet [UPDATED!] [Link opens a PDF] - Explains VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), a technology which allows you to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular phone line (2013, Federal Communications Commission). GCF Global Learning's Introduction to Skype explains how to use the popular Skype VoIP service, and provides links to other free or affordable options for making VoIP and video calls (Goodwill Community Foundation).
BCC : Blind Carbon Copies - Do you like to forward jokes, photos, or other email messages to your family and friends? BCC, or blind carbon copy, allows you to protect their privacy when you do. Unlike addresses in the TO: field or the CC: (carbon copy) field, addresses in the BCC: field cannot be seen by other users. This page briefly explains why and how to use BCC. (2013, US-CERT, Department of Homeland Security)
Computer Workstation Ergonomics : How to Sit at a Computer - Describes health and comfort factors to be considered in setting up your workstation (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons). See also Safe Sitting (Canada Safety Council; non-profit organization) and Office Ergonomics (University of California).
Consumer Reports Online Security Guide - Lots of information and advice on the latest security threats; covers spam, viruses, spyware, phishing scams, ID theft, social networks, and kids online. Some articles are only available to paid subscribers. (Consumer Reports)
CyberBullying - 'Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.' This site offers information and advice to parents, kids (by age group), educators, and law enforcement officers on how to recognize, prevent, and deal with cyberbullying. (Wired Safety, a non-profit/volunteer organization)
E-Mail, Web, and Chat Room Slang and Acronyms - A handy reference guide to acronyms such as LOL, ROFL, and IMO, which are commonly used on the web and text messaging (2011, American Academy of Pediatrics). Take Time To Text - Time to Talk [Link opens a PDF] explains teen text lingo so parents can communicate more effectively by text with their kids (National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign). You can use the Transl8it! site to translate SMS, text, emoticon, smiley, slang or chat room lingo into plain english, or vice versa (author unknown; site includes advertisements). Parents who want to know more about their kids' use of cell phones and text-messaging, see should read Kids with Phones (by Wired Safety, a non-profit/volunteer organization), NetSmartz Cell Phones (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America), and Cell Phone Safety Tips [UPDATED LINK!] (PTA).
Flash Cookies - 'If you are concerned about your privacy online, it's worth learning about how Flash cookies work and what you can do to control them.' (2010, Popular Mechanics; site includes advertisements)
Google Family Safety Center - Links to tools such as SafeSearch and YouTube Safety Mode to help you restrict content your children can see, plus tips & advice for parents, and a way to report abuse or inappropriate content on YouTube, Blogger & Picasa. (Google)
Internet Crime Complaint Center - Use this site to file a complaints over any type of crime committed over the Internet, including credit card fraud, retail fraud, investment fraud, auction fraud, etc. Formerly Internet Fraud Complaint Center (FBI and National White Collar Crime Center). The FBI also offers a web page on new e-scams and warnings.
Kids' Online Safety & Privacy [UPDATED LINK!] - Practical tips for parents on protecting kids online; new rules for kids' digital privacy will go into effect July 1, 2013 (Federal Trade Commission). NetSmartz offers helpful net-safety resources for parents, kids, and teens (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America). I Keep Safe has a variety of resources for parents, educators, and youth, including a Parent's Guide to Facebook (non-profit organization). B Net Savvy is a frequently-updated Internet safety site for adults who want to help teens and 'tweens connect safely, with sections on social networking, wireless devices, gaming, cyberbullying, safety, and privacy (National Education Association et al.). The National PTA offers helpful parent guides on Safety for Adolescents' Online Social Networking and Be Smart on Facebook.
Legal Guide for Bloggers - 'This guide isn't a substitute for, nor does it constitute, legal advice', but it offers 'a basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger' (2009, Electronic Frontier Foundation). See also Citizen Media Law Project's Legal Guide (Harvard Law School and Center for Citizen Media). Political bloggers should also check out the Net Democracy Guide for information about how their activities might be affected by campaign finance regulations (Center for Democracy and Technology).
Microsoft Safety & Security Center - Tips, tools, and alerts from Microsoft to help you protect your computer, yourself, and your family from hackers, viruses, fraud, and more. See also Security Tips & Talks. (Microsoft)
Passwords - Explains the whys and hows of creating strong passwords to protect your e-mail and other computer accounts and keep your private information secure (University of Wyoming). See also 25 most-used passwords revealed: Is yours one of them? (2012, ZDNet / CBS Interactive; site includes advertisements) and How to create a strong password (and remember it) (2011, Consumer Reports).
Phishing Scams [UPDATED LINK!] - Recommendations on how to avoid the fraud and identity theft that result from phishing and spoofing, which use emails and websites that look safe but are actually stealing your personal information. (Anti-Phishing Working Group, a coalition of information technology companies, law enforcement agencies, international treaty organizations, government ministries, universities and research institutions)
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse - Practical tips on preventing or coping with identity theft, and safeguarding your personal privacy on the Internet and elsewhere. Links to many other groups addressing privacy issues (Non-profit organization). See also InfoWorld : Internet Privacy for up-to-date news and opinion on privacy issues associated with Google, Microsoft, social media sites like Facebook & Twitter, and more (from publisher International Data Group; site includes advertisements). Read about How Facebook is Using You (2012, New York Times; site includes advertisements).
Safe Computer Disposal [UPDATED LINK!] - 'Computers often hold all kinds of personal and financial information. If you're getting rid of your old computer, there are things to do before you log off for the last time so your hard drive doesn't become a 21st century treasure chest for identity thieves and information pirates.' OnGuardOnline.gov tells you how (Federal Trade Commission et al.). Wiping Old Electronics Clean See also Protect and purge your personal files, Remove personal files from your PC (2011, Microsoft), and The 411 on Disposing of Your Old Cell Phone, above. How and Why to Destroy Old Flash Drives explains how to protect personal or professional data by destroying old flash drives (2011, Campus Technology Magazine; 1105 Media Inc).
SafeKids.Com - Offers practical advice on protecting your kids' safety and privacy online. Includes links to related sites, plus kid-safe sites and search engines, an online safety quiz, and a 'Family Contract for Online Safety' for kids and parents to sign. A sister site, Connect Safely, offers advice, news, and forums for parents & teens on safe, civil use of social networking sites and tools. (By broadcaster and syndicated columnist Larry Magid)
Security Starter Kit : Best Windows Security Apps - Free downloads of recommended software for virus protection, spyware removal, in-browser security, firewall, encryption, and parental control (CNET.com, a CBS Interactive site; site includes advertisements). Many computer security vendors offer free computer security checks for your computer. Visit Free Security Checkups to check your computer for known viruses, spyware, and more (National Cyber Security Alliance).
Spam Scams & Hoaxes - If you receive a dubious email or online message, check this encyclopedia of common hoaxes before you do anything else. Exposes false virus warnings, health scares, 'free' product scams, stories of Nigerian dictators, and much more. (Trend Micro, a company providing technology security products & services)
Stay Safe Online - This website gives you the information you need to secure your home computer, including tips on how to safeguard your system, a self-guided cyber security test, educational materials, and other Internet resources (National Cyber Security Alliance). OnGuard Online offers more practical tips to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information (U. S. Postal Inspection Service, FBI, et al.). Still more cyber-security tips are available at US-CERT (Department of Homeland Security). See also Looks Too Good To Be True for advice on recognizing and avoiding all kinds of online scams including identity theft, hacking, phishing / spoofing, spam, spyware, financial fraud, auction fraud, investment frauds, job scams, Ponzi & Pyramid schemes, auction fraud, sweepstakes / lottery Fraud, counterfeit payments fraud, and more; and .
Video Game Addiction - As with other forms of addiction, an excessive absorption with computers or video games may result in major social, school or work disruptions. This fact sheet will help you recognize the signs of addiction in children or adults. (ParentFurther.com, National Institute on Media and the Family / Search Institute)
Wireless Security : Protecting Your Wireless Network - An overview of the risks associated with using unsecured wireless / Wi-Fi connections to access the internet, with information on safer alternatives, and links to additional information (2010 - 2011, Federal Communications Commission). See also Wireless Communications : Voice and Data Privacy (2010, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse), OnGuard Online : Securing Your Wireless Network (2011, Federal Trade Commission et al.), and The Zombie Network : Beware 'Free Public WiFi' (2010, National Public Radio; site includes advertisements).