ABC Tower   ABC Nightlife, 25 December 2007

Tips & Hints

Nightlife 25 December 2007

Paul joined Rod Quinn for the Christmas night edition of the Nightlife. Christmas night is always an interesting spot as gifts don't always work as well as they should.

We also looked at what's been the biggest sellers of Christmas 2007. One of the biggest sellers has been the Nintendo Wii games console, in the computer stakes, the Amazon report the Apple MacBook was their biggest selling system. An intesting late runner in the Christmas stakes was the Asus eeePC which is probably the exact opposite of the MacBook in that the MacBook is the Porsche of the computer world while the eeePC is probably the Volkswagon or Hyundai.

The eeePC

Asus' eeePC,pronounced "e pc", is a rethink of what computers should be. It's a tiny, light laptop that runs on a flash hard drive. To help keep the price down, it ditches Microsoft Windows and comes with the Xandros Linux operating system.

For tech savvy people, this is a quite a development. Linux is very different to Windows and gives a lot more flexibility to computers. The downside for the less tech savvy is the system doesn't work with many popular programs and hardware.

Being tech-heads, we love the idea of Linux equipped laptops, but we suspect a lot of home and business computer users will struggle with this. The eeePC can run Windows and it comes with a Windows XP driver disk, but you do need your own copy which will add to the price.

Generally we'd recommend the eeePC for the power user. For the typical computer user we'd steer you towards a Windows or Mac based system which requires a lot less computer expertise.

Computer questions

We cleared a lot of questions during the show including questions about what software to use on a new system, huge Internet bills and voice recognition for the Apple Mac

Apple Mac voice programs

One of the strengths of the Apple operating system is it's accessibility functions, Apple have prided themselves on making computers as accessible as possible and one of these functions is voice recognition.

Cathy asked about enabling these functions on her Mac. You can turn the speech recognition on by going into the Preferences and choosing "speech". Apple have the details on their website.

Computer keeps shutting down randomly

Amanda called about her computer randomly. Sometimes it will start up straight away, sometimes it takes a while before you can turn the computer back on.

This is almost certainly a failed fan somewhere on the system, probably on the central processing unit, or the chip, but it could also be in the power supply. This will require a visit to the local computer shop as it's something that most mobile techs won't carry.

Computer training

Irene called in about how to use her computer. This is an ongoing problem for all new computer users. Fortunately there's a lot of help at hand. The Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association has a comprehensive list of free or cheap training services for seniors.

Given Irene called from Ourimbah on the NSW Central Coast, the following clubs seem to be the closest to her.

Gosford City Council Seniors Citizens Centre. Seniors Computer Club, Central Coast

Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Irene was also struggling with how to write letters. One of the frustrating things with new computers is they come with little more than rudimentary word processing programs. Robert also called in with the same problem and Alan kindly reminded us of the free Google Apps funtions.

This is a very common question and we've covered it previously on the website. Generally we find most users end up going with Microsoft Office. However there's a horrible range of different options so it's best to understand which versions are available.

Upcoming spots

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