I've been using PC's since 1984 and at one stage owned a computer rental company, so I've had a bit of experence. In this section I'm going to share some tips I've picked up over the years to help you make your computing experience better.

I actually don't really like computers but I love what you can do with them. I treat them as a tool, and just like any other tool you'll get better results and it will last longer if you give it a bit of regular maintenance and learn how to use it properly.

I can't guarantee that these tips will work for everyone but I do know that they work for me and many others.

I hope you find them useful.

If you have questions or your own tips to share please email . I can't guarantee I'll answer your questions or publish your tips but I'll try. Please let me know whether you wish your name to be used or not.

Andrew Parkinson

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Technology Is Making Life Easier

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chair on beachI am always trying to do things "smarter", more efficiently, faster, more accurately, cheaper. Sometimes I'll sacrifice a little of one for more of the others. Technology often helps.

Internet of Things

You are going to hear more and more about IoT, the Internet of Things. It is already here, electronic devices are already linked together over the internet with no wires, sharing data and interacting to do what you want them to do. Most TVs you can now buy are "Smart" they can connect to the internet, I can tell my TV to turn off if my cell phone gets further than 20 meters away. Many air conditioning units now come internet enabled, if you can control them over the internet you can use IFTTT to make other devices do things at the same time. Cell phones, cars, fridges are all available in New Zealand right now that are internet enabled.

Phillips Hue light bulbs are IoT, about $320 for a starter kit of three bulbs and a controller are here, now, in New Zealand. You can turn them on and off and even change the colour from anywhere in the world you can get an internet connection. You could give your son-in-law in England the code for your bulb and tell him to turn your Hue light on when your daughter gives birth, blue for a boy, pink for a girl. If you are reading this you have email and you could do that - today. Its not the future it's here, now.

Using technology can help make your life easier and more fun. Don't be scared of it, embrace it, learn about it and make it work to your advantage.

Making The Internet Work For YOu

At work I made a conscious decision to receive correspondence by email wherever possible. I notified everyone we dealt with that we wanted to receive invoices, reports, any correspondence by email. Almost all happily obliged.

Receiving correspondence by email meant I didn't have to scan the letter to file it electronically I could just save the email. Time saved. Using rules in my email system that can be automated, more time saved, far more accurate, no additional cost.

Of course I got more emails and less letters in the PO Box. Then about half way through last year I found that more and more I was going to the PO Box and finding there wasn't anything there. I'd wasted 15 minutes. About the same time I discovered NZ Post has a system where they will email you if you have mail in your PO Box, or not. So no email no mail, no trip to the PO Box 15 minutes saved.

So then instead of going to the PO Box every morning I only went if I got an email saying there was mail in there. Saves me time saves me money. But for it to work I had to check my email before I left for work to know whether I needed to go to the PO Box. I get a lot of emails! If I was running late and didn't have time to scan through all the email I'd have to go to the PO Box anyway, grrrr.

Then I discovered IFTTT. If This Then That is a service that connects other services together using applets - little applications. If something happens on one service, in my case receiving an email from the PO Box, then it does something else, it puts an 8:00 am appointment in my cell phones calendar.

My phone reminds me if I have an appointment, it makes a noise and the light flashes, at some stage in the morning when I grab my phone to head off to work if the light is flashing I can see that I need to clear the PO Box. If it's not I don't. Nice and simple. And it just works, I no longer have to think about it now its been set up. It took me minutes to get it set up it was reasonably easy, IFTTT guides you through the process step by step.

IFTTT is free for personal use and it can connect to an astonishing number of different services. One I just saw is "Open the garage door when your BMW enters the driveway". I think I need a garage door opener and a new BMW for that to work. But I've realised I could create one that sends my daughter a text telling her to open the garage door for me when I get close to home because I can link IFTTT to the GPS on my phone. But she's just left home and gone to Varsity so that wont work.

Depending on the physical location of my phone I can use IFTTT to do other things, I could send a txt message to my colleague Jonathan "Make Coffee"  whenever I drive into the office car park, that might be a good idea. Because I know my wife's password I could send her a  txt "Buy Heineken" whenever her phone was near a supermarket, that's definitely a bad idea.

It can send you an email if the weather forecast is for rain, it can do all sorts of things that are useful, time saving, or just plain fun!

The point is that you can use technology to help you make your life easier and often for free.

Microsoft recently released an alternative to IFTTT called Flow. In the business we are using that to automate many processes. Of course Flow integrates beautifully with Microsoft programs and allows you to do things you just can't do with IFTTT but doesn't yet have the vast range of applets that IFTTT does.

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Clean Up Tool

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A very useful tool I've been using for some time now is CCleaner

I run it almost everyday sometimes more than once a day. If any programs are "playing up" or seem to be running slowly I run this and very often my problem is solved.

I urge you to be careful using the Registry Cleaner, always take a backup in case you delete something you need.

Optimization and Cleaning

CCleanerCCleaner claims to be the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download.

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Clean Your Mouse's Ball

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How to Clean Old Ball Style Computer Mouse

Mouse with Ball RemovedIf your old computer mouse has a ball in the bottom of it cleaning it and the mechanism inside that it rolls around on can get rid if the jerkiness you may be experiencing with your computer. Give them a clean and you'll probably notice a significant difference.

Really you should get a new optical mouse. A cheap good quality optical mouse can be bought for $20.00. They are far better than the old ball mice. But in the meantime.

But first Clean your mouse's bottom!

It's probably best to turn your PC off before you do this, although I seldom do.

Turn your mouse over, if it has a ball you'll see a wee bit of it poking out the bottom or a round hole where it does. There is usually a disc around the ball that you twist a quarter off a turn or so to remove. The ball will then fall out and roll under the nearest piece of heavy furniture, head down to your nearest electrical shop and buy a new optical mouse.

If it doesn't give it a wash with a damp cloth. Now heck inside the hole in your mouse. You'll find two or three wheels and/or rollers that the mouse runs on. They are probably covered in gunk, the same gunk that collects on the bottom. Scratch it off, I use my finger nail, you probably want to use a thin flat blade off a small pocket knife or some other bit of small flat metal.

Invariably bits will drop off into the inner workings, give it a few sharp taps on your desk to clean them out, give it a shake and a few more taps.

You might find that after this it is actually worse to use. Open it up again and make sure you've got all the stuff off the roller/wheel from right around it and from both ends, and make sure you've shaken all the loose gunk out.

Better yet "Get a mouse with glasses".

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OneDrive for Business Or SharePoint Team Site?

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If you have subscribed to one of the Microsoft Office 365 business editions you have access to two options for storing your files. You might be wondering, ... OneDrive for Business Or SharePoint Team Site? Which do I use. The infographic below may help you decide.

OneDrive for Business Versus SharePoint Team Site
Crafted by: Sharegate The SIMPLEST SharePoint and Office 365 Management Tool