Webmaster's Blog


The views stated here are entirely those of the Webmaster and are not, necessarily those of the U3A, or the Ems Valley U3A.
 
Recent changes to the web site, to make it more friendly to tablets, i-pads, phones etc. have meant changes to the fonts used. Some devices might not replicate some fonts and may use alternatives which could cause some strange page layouts. Sorry about this, I am working on solutions as I discover the problem.
Sorry if they have, please advise the Webmaster and he can remove or renew the link.
 


CREATING DOCUMENTS FOR EMAILING
There can be problems with emailing a WORD doc. The recipient could, if they wished edit your document. Not a good idea. So how do create a file that can be smaller and easier to email?
 
You create a Portable Document File.
More ....

SOFTWARE AT REDUCED PRICES
Students, colleges, schools and charities can usually purchase software at reduced prices from the bigger software companies. As Webmaster I was asked if U3A Members could obtain software at reduced prices. An internet search has found the following, but I have neither checked nor can I endorse this in any way, so please check carefully. More ....

What is an email client?
With so many different devices around now those of us using tablets, i-phones or smart phones don't need to worry about this. We simply add our email address and password and the device does the rest. However if you are using a pc or a laptop you may prefer to download and store your email on to your device. For this your laptop or pc will need to have an email client, that is email software. More ....

How safe is your laptop/computer/device?
Anybody who has access to the internet, be it crawling web sites, playing games, streaming audio or video or even just downloading emails on to the device needs Anti-Virus (AVP) protection.
 
Yes, even your smart phone needs protection.
MORE.....

How do you pay for your online purchases?
Buying anything online, holidays, software, food, clothes, books etc. etc. is very common-place. Usually it is also very safe. Checking that the web site you are buying from uses an HTTPS:// domain will mean that your data is secure in transmission to the company to whom you are making a payment. More ....

Emailing Groups
Do you ever worry when someone sends an email to ten or twenty people and they can all see your email address? You should. Why should your email address be made public? Like your phone number you should only give your email address to someone you want to have it. If that someone then sends a group email to all their friends and includes your email address where it can be seen it is now "public property". More ....

Who is your email provider?
This really is a personal view by me, your webmaster, but I have found that from my email contacts through various groups, clubs, societies and through businesses that more email addresses seem to be hacked on Hotmail accounts than any other. More ....

NEED TO SEND WEBMASTER LARGE FILES, SUCH AS PHOTOS?
If you need to me more than one photo for inclusion on the web site, or of your file is very large, it is easy to do this using Google Drive. You dont need to be signed up to Google. Simply email me and ask for a link. I will send you a link from my Goggle Drive which will give you access to a folder called EmsValleyU3A. More .....

EMAIL SPAM
Spam emails are from some low life person who has simply scooped up the @emsvalleyu3a.org.uk email addresses from the web site and sent the email. The U3A site was not hacked. Using the emails addresses is simple spam.
More info....

CREATING DOCUMENTS FOR EMAILING
There can be problems with emailing a WORD doc. The recipient might not have the same version of WORD that you are using, or images and colours might change due to variations of software/devices. Worst of all the recipient could, if they wished edit your document. Not a good idea. So how do you avoid these problems and, at the same time create a file that can be smaller and easier to email?
 
You create a Portable Document File. If you have ever downloaded any documents from GOV.UK site or any other major site they will nearly always be in PDF format. I think of it as a Printer Defined Format. A piece of software you load on to your device creates a graphic file that replicates exactly (almost) what you would normally send to your printer. In fact once you have installed a software that creates PDF files it appears in your printer list when you send a document to PRINT, You simply select it as a printer, it asks you for a file name and it 'prints' it to an image file called a PDF file.
 
Once installed it really is simple to use and is very useful if you ever want to save order confirmations from online purchases, or if you scan important documents at home before sending them in the post.
 
So where do you buy this magic software? You don't, you can get it for FREE! Yes it is free and it is reliable. Go to http://www.primopdf.com/
 
It is free. Do not pay for it. I would be surprised if you need to buy any of the other features if all you want to do is create a PDF. There are other FREE PDF creators available. Simply Google FREE PDF CREATOR. DO NOT PAY FOR ANY PDF SOFTWARE AND DO NOT GIVE CREDIT CARD DETAILS TO DOWNLOAD FREE SOFTWARE. If the need you card details it wont be free!
 
You can see links to Adobe PDF READER all over the internet (even elsewhere on this web site). In fact you can download it here. IT IS VERY SAFE AND SECURE AND WILL NOT HARM YOUR DEVICE. You may already have it. Again it is FREE. Do not pay for it. Do not give your card details for FREE software. You will need Acrobat Reader (or a similar PDF reader) to open these documents. Acrobat Reader is freely available on the internet. Download Acrobat Reader here free of charge. Whilst this link is to a reputable source we can accept no responsibility for software downloaded from independent sources. We suggest you carefully read the download screen and untick other options so that you only download Acrobat Reader.

Other PDF readers are available - follow this link. This link was renewed 15/6/15. The last one "disappeared". External links do that sometimes!

Cheap Microsoft Software for U3A Members
 
Microsoft make their software available at greatly reduced rates to those who are studying or learning. Whilst this usually applies to those at school, college or university, they will also accept member of a U3A as eligible. Examples of the savings available :-
You may purchase ONE copy of Microsoft Office 2010 (the full professional version) for about £38 instead of the full price of around £392. (prices as of Jan 2012) Whilst you would not normally purchase this version, but probably the Home and Student version this latter is usually around £80 and doesn't include all the programs in the full office.
 
If you are interested, go to the website www.software4students.co.uk
 
You can have a look around the website to see what is on offer. If you wish to register and then purchase an item, click on the register button, top right on the web page. Select Student or Teacher depending upon whether you are leading a group or are a group member and fill in your details. For the section entitled Select your School, College or University put U3a in the search box and click Find It. You will find several u3a entries. Microsoft have advised that they wish all U3A members using the software scheme to register to the main address ie put in U3A, BR1 1QE which is the name and postcode of the main U3A offices. Once registered, you can make a purchase on line. You will find that a small card handling fee (approx £3) is added to your purchase price, but even so the savings are considerable.
NB This information was first published in 2012
Webmaster: Open Office is a Microsoft Office "look alike" and is FREE from https://www.openoffice.org/

Who is your email provider?
 
This really is a personal view by me, your webmaster, but I have found that from my email contacts through various groups, clubs, societies and through businesses more email addresses are hacked on Hotmail accounts than any other.
 
Personally I use, and have always used, Googlemail (or Gmail). I have, as far as I know never had my email address or my contacts list hi-jacked. Within Google you can set up all the normal useful email features: Contacts list; signatures; what to include in Reply To: as well as create folders to store email separately and filters to make things happen to your emails.
 
You can collect your emails through an email POP3 client on to your laptop/pc/other device using your Email client such as Outlook Express, Windows Mail or Thunderbird or you can read your emails on line anywhere where you can log on to Google. At this stage I should declare that there other companies like Google who do the same, I am just offering the benefit of my experience with Google. All of this is, of course FREE. You do not need your credit card. All Google want is your name address, gender and date of birth. Anything else you care to give them is up to you.

What is an email client?
 
On your mobile device your emails are not actually stored, at least not all of them. Each time you open email on your phone it loads the few latest emails it has in memory and the rest it downloads on-demand as you scroll down through to the older emails. Sent emails and any emails you save to folders are kept on "the great server in the sky" for your device to access on demand. This is a fairly recent development, created to suit the lack of storage on mobile devices.
 
On a laptop or pc you can access your emails via the web. You log on to Yahoo, Google, Hotmail or who ever and access your emails using what is called webmail. This uses no hard disk space on your pc/laptop and also means you can access your emails from any computer anywhere in the world, provided you remember your password.
 

How safe is your laptop/computer/device?
 
Anybody who has access to the internet, be it crawling web sites, playing games, streaming audio or video or even just downloading emails on to the device needs Anti-Virus (AVP) protection.
 
Yes, even your smart phone needs protection.
 
It is irresponsible of anyone to not have AVP as your device could be infected and you could then, unwittingly, pass it on to other internet users.
 
Good AVP will protect your files; your contact list and all your personal details and may even regularly scan your storage for errors/infections.
 
Anti-virus software is relatively cheap (about £25 per year) and readily available. There are even some free versions available (AVG for example) and most AV software suppliers offer across multiple devices deals so you can protect your laptop, your tablet and your phone by the same software supplier.
 
You may well have had a three months free trial on your device when you purchased it. Usually from AVG or Norton. These are good but you do need to sign up and pay for continuing protection. There are many more out there on the WWW.
 
I use ESET, which was recommended to me when I ran my business to cover all my computers. I have been using it for about fifteen years now. I find it works very well. I get regular anti-virus library updates automatically added to my devices. It scans every file, photo and message I receive and warns if it thinks it is suspicious and blocks it totally if it is sure there is something wrong. It then sends me a warning and offers a solution to the problem.
 
We have four devices here at Webmaster Towers and they are all protected by one deal. One annual payment. Done.
 
Apart from annoying messages with even more annoying links on your emails a computer virus can, and will, re-write and erase data files, system files (the ones that make your device work) and send your personal information to all sorts of not very nice people.
 
So you need to do three things to protect yourself from those not very nice people:

1. Get a good anti-virus software package on your device(s).
2. Make a back-up of all your important files on an external memory device (and remember to include your emails)
3. If your laptop/computer came with a setup disk packed in the box, KEEP IT SAFE. You may never need it unless you get a virus and have to recreate your whole computer setup from scratch. Then it is essential and your AVP company may be able to retrieve data.

Only then will you be safe and be sure that if it all goes wrong you have, tucked away somewhere safe, all your important little files, photos and emails.


Emailing groups
 
Do you ever worry when someone sends an email to ten or twenty people and they can all see your email address? You should. Why should your email address be made public? Like your phone number you should only give your email address to someone you want to have it. If that someone then sends a group email to all their friends and includes your email address where it can be seen it is now "public property".
 
There is a way that Round Robins can be sent without all the email addresses going public.
When an email is created you have to include somebody in the TO: section In addition you can usually add someone in CC: You can also add someone in BCC:
 
Any addresses that are in BCC: will not be visible to anyone else. This, in secretarial terms, is called BLIND COPY. Each of the recipients who are listed in BCC will get a copy of the email but will only see the email address in TO:
 
So next time you send out a Round Robin or a Newsletter send one copy to yourself in the TO: box and include everybody else on BCC:
 
Makes sense doesn't it?

How do you pay for your online purchases?
Buying anything online, holidays, software, food, clothes, books etc. etc. is very common-place. Usually it is also very safe. Checking that the web site you are buying from uses an HTTPS:// domain will mean that your data is secure in transmission to the company to whom you are making a payment.
 
However what are you paying with?
DEBIT card or CREDIT card?
 
Yes, I know, if there is a card processing fee it is usually cheaper to use a debit card. But, BEWARE. Online purchases using a DEBIT card are not always protected. Your bank may refuse to refund if you are defrauded and you have no product/service guarantee. If a fraudster obtains your debit card details, even without your PIN number, they can use that card for small purchases that you might not notice until you get your bank statement. ALSO your debit card has access directly to your personal bank account via online banking. Fraudsters have been known to empty peoples bank accounts, all of them current and savings account via online banking using a debit card.
 
If you use a CREDIT card the credit card company guarantees your purchase is safe. It also gives you a 30 day (at least) guarantee on the product/service you are purchasing and you can cancel that payment (by contacting the credit card company) if you think there is something wrong with the transaction or even if you simply change your mind. A CREDIT card is not linked to your personal bank account. A fraudster cannot access online banking using a credit card.
 
You might not like CREDIT cards. They charge fees and interest. I can understand that you do not like them but, if you get a credit card that has no sign-up fee and you only use for online purchases AND you set up a direct debit that clears the outstanding balance every month you will never pay any interest charges AND you will have the safety of a credit card for your online purchases

NEED TO SEND WEBMASTER LARGE FILES, SUCH AS PHOTOS?
If you need to me more than one photo for inclusion on the web site, or of your file is very large, it is easy to do this using Google Drive. You dont need to be signed up to Google. Simply email me and ask for a link. I will send you a link from my Goggle Drive which will give you access to a folder called EmsValletU3A.
 
You can open this folder and simply drag and drop or copy and paste the files in to the folder. Close Google Drive and I will then have access to those files.
It is simple, safe and secure as I only give U3A members access to the folder.

EMAIL SPAM
Spam emails are from some low life person who has simply scooped up the @emsvalleyu3a.org.uk email addresses from the web site and sent the email. The U3A site was not hacked. Using the emails addresses is simple spam.
 
There is little we can do about anyone simply copying the email addresses on the website. The reason we prefer to use @emsvalleyu3a.org.uk email addresses on the site is to prevent your personal email address being used for spam. Professional spammers would not bother with .org.uk email address.
 
Please remain on your guard.
Never click a link in any emails without first checking where that email came from and even then check again.
Never respond to anyone claimng your account has been hacked it will 99.999% of the time be a lie.
Make sure you have good virus protection on your device and it includes spam filtering on your email.
Before you delete a spam email mark it as spam so that your software learns that the email is spam and prevents a repeat attack.
 
Be alert - your country needs lerts! :-)