St. Paul's School for Boys

08

Mar

Media on stpaulsschool.org

There is quite a lot of media on our school website so here is an 8 minute guide to show what is available to you and also how to navigate around some of it.  As always your feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

As an added extra you can also go to Shutterfly (http://www.shutterfly.com/pro/stpaulsschool/20102011) to purchase pictures you see on the school’s website.

01

Mar

Installing Printers at SP

Have you ever been in a different room other than your normal room and needed to print something? But the printer you want to print to is not installed on that computer. Now you’re stuck. Watch the video tutorial below to learn how to install network printers at SP so you don’t find yourself in this pickle anymore!

17

Feb

Calendar’s in Outlook

I am sure at some point someone has called/emailed you to view your calendar or to request that you open their calendar. The only problem is that when you do this you probably get a big ugly error message saying that you don’t have permission. In the video tutorial below you will find out how to open a shared calendar and give permission to someone so they can open your calendar. It’s fast and easy!

15

Feb

Never done eBay? Me neither.

I have always been a little wary of eBay.  I think I’ve always assumed I’d be the person who buys the dud item or sells something to someone and then get scammed.  I’m not sure why I was so pessimistic about it, in most other things I’m an optimist.

Nevertheless I have a house full of items that needed either donating, throwing out, or turning into cash.  I have over the past 5 years of being here donated many thing to many charities and others, thrown out some things, and so now it is time to try and third option. In thinking why should I do this I remembered that one man’s junk is another (wo)man’s treasure so thought I’d hopefully have some success.

STEP 1 - Register with eBay

First of I realized I would likely need an account so I proceeded to eBay and clicked on register and got to the link above.  It’s pretty straightforward, I think picking the name is the hardest thing.  I would not recommend using your real name as your username just because it identifies you a little easier and anonymity is your friend for things like this.

After you have created your account it will send you an email to check you really  are a human being and not a bot trying to make a mess of things.

STEP 2 - PayPal Account

When you have registered you’ll also want to create a PayPal account.  Again this is something I’ve not wanted to do either.  Mainly because I have had no need and also because the fewer places online that have any information about my finances the better.

The advantage to PayPal is that it is well known and established, it is not some recently created, naive starter company that will be hacked within the next month.  It knows what it is doing (we hope) so I do feel very safe setting up an account here.  Essentially what I can deduce (please someone correct me if I am wrong) is that PayPal does is set up a buffer zone between your finances and your transactions. 

  1. I buy something on eBay and charge it to my PayPal (PP) account.
  2. If there is not enough money in my account it withdraws it from the financial location I provided it with.  You generally only have money in your PP account if you have transferred it in or you have sold something and not taken the money out of your PP account and put it into your bank account.

This makes it safer because when you have dealings with people you never provide them with any of your personal banking details (checking, savings, credit, etc.) just your PayPal.  PP also offers other protective things too, as does eBay.  Which can be found here (eBay) and here (PP).  You do not have to use PayPal but it does seem prudent to do so.  You may be saying where’s the catch?  And if you did good on you, very little in life is free.  I’ll explain costs later.

When you have filled in your information at some point in the proceedings you will be asked to verify your details by receiving a phone call.  What will happen is you’ll receive a phonecall, they’ll tell you a code, you put it in the website and then you’re good.

STEP 3 - Create a eBay Seller Account

You’ll have to be logged into your eBay account to start your seller account.  Fill in the info, follow instructions and you should be fine.

STEP 4 - Do Things

By now you are ready to buy and sell things on eBay.  Follow the links on the pages to get to where you want to.  My eBay in the top right will get you to your main page and the search bar in the upper right is similar to any other search bar you’ll find on Amazon, Yahoo or Google but only applies to eBay items.  Good luck.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The first things you should be aware of are the costs.  For buying there are no fees, for selling eBay fees are 9% of any sale you make (max $50) and there can be a posting cost and other nickel and dime fees, check the link for details.  PayPal fees can also take between 1.9% - 2.9% + US$0.30 for money you get pad from a sale but take nothing from a purchase you make.

So when I sold my sofa for $150 on eBay (yes I was successful) I lost 11.9% + US$0.30 of the $150 to fees leaving me with $131.85.  So being a little annoyed at this I decided to try Craigslist as I heard that this has no fees… (blog to follow)

10

Feb

Safety First (with online sales/purchases)

I will be posting a blog soon about eBay and Craigslist but thought it prudent to give the warnings and advice first before any of you decide to have a go at (if you have not already done so).  And for those of you who already use them it can’t do you any harm to hear what you might already know.

Now I am no expert in scams online with these sort of sites, if I was I’m sure I’d either have more money or be in jail.  My plan was to find them and copy them all down but when I discovered there are dozens upon dozens of scams I decided just to pick some of the most common and suggest you check the sites at the bottom of the blog for others.

  1. If it seems too good to be true it probably is.  Lesson in life and in online buying and selling.
  2. Fakes and Reproductions. It’s a mistake to think that a certificate of authenticity is proof that an item is real. Watch out for items that are scarce suddenly appearing in mint condition online. Also watch for any type of comment in the description that gives the seller an out if the product turns out to be fake like “ To my knowledge “ or “ I think “.
  3. Phishing, Email Scam This is the most common scam. Beware fake emails and websites you have been directed to.  They can look extremely convincing.  Always type in web addresses yourself if you are logging in (or use your favorites) and don’t always follow a link in an email even if it looks correct, be on guard.
  4. Paid too much This scam the buyer will over pay (with a fake money order) and request you send the refund to someone else. Let’s say you sold a $200.00 cell phone. The buyer wants to send you $2,000.00 and you are to return the $1,800.00 to a relative. After doing the kind thing, you learn from your bank the payment was fake. Now you are out the cell phone and $1,800.00. These scammers can be rather pushy.
  5. Hidden Shipping and Handling This is a scam I’m surprised still works. The seller lists an item at a low cost without mentioning the cost of shipping, handling and insurance. After you win the item you find out that shipping is huge, and they require inflated insurance fees. Do Not Bid if you don’t know the cost of shipping. Another thing to be careful of is mandatory insurance or inflated shipping costs. This may not fall into the fraud category but something all buyers need to be mindful of. Most sellers will be up-front about the high shipping cost but keep the item low in order to either save on eBay fees or to attract more attention with the lower starting price. Factor in all the cost before bidding.
  6. Fake Escrow Account This is where the scammer will make payment but it hasn’t yet been credit to your account because it is in an escrow account. Once the buyer, I mean scammer, received the item, they will release the money to you. The scammer will claim this is a safe payment for both parties. After the scammer receives the item, you learn there is no payment because it was a fake escrow service set up by the scammer/buyer. This is more likely to happen on higher end items and I wouldn’t use an escrow service. Tell your buyer to use PayPal. When you know the deal is a scam and it not going any future, file an ‘Unpaid Item’ depute. Do Not file a mutually agree to cancel. By filing a mutually agree to cancel you place the power back to the scammer. If the scammer doesn’t agree to mutually cancel, you will not get your Final Value Fees refunded. http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/unpaid-item.html
  7. Soft Fraud Soft fraud is just as damaging to the market place as major crime, maybe more so. eBay doesn’t recognize soft fraud. We consider soft fraud to come from when the seller has the “you should have asked” attitude. Let’s say you find a Fleetword Mac CD, This had great memories to you and you thought it would make a great gift. The seller shows the CD in overall great condition. It is shown with the case and the paper artwork insert. When you get the item you find the seller only sent the disk in a plan envelope. When you complain to the seller, their standard statement is: I never said it came with the case and artwork, you should have asked. These type of sellers run off as many, if not more buyers than the Nigerian scammer. Buyers can file a SNAD (Significantly Not as Described)
  8. List or Information Listings These are listings made to fool people into thinking they are purchasing something they are not. Their listing might read something like: “Sony PlayStation PSP Portable” The listing shows pictures of the game and has a long list of the game details but somewhere in the listing it states you are only purchasing a list or the name of the wholesaler where you can purchase the game. You are not purchasing the game itself. These sellers are taking advantage of those who get excited of getting a game at a great price.

Some general advice:

  • Trust your instincts
  • Deal only with local buyers and sellers (especially on Craigslist)
  • NEVER wire funds to a distant buyer, via Western Union or any other carrier
  • Be wary if the other party wants to use an escrow service such as BidPay, Squaretrade, or even PayPal
  • NEVER give out personal financial information (eBay or PayPal info, checking account number, SSN, etc.)
  • Always remember the most important rule — BUYER BEWARE
  • With Craigslist never give out your address in the posting and try and conduct all sales/purchases in a very public place wherever possible (I use the front door of a Best Buy as there’s always people  around and security).
  • If you are conducting business alone, even if you are meeting in a public place, call a trusted friend and stay on the line (using a bluetooth headset) as you complete your transaction. This is sometimes a sufficient enough deterrent to not harm you.

Now that you’re scared enough I hope you’ll read the upcoming blog on eBay…

04

Feb

E-mail Archiving

"I’m over the limit again?!?!?!?" I am sure you’ve said that a few times after getting messages from the "System Administrator" saying your email is approaching it’s size limit and to clean your e-mail out. Some of you may have even gotten e-mails in the past from our Network Administrator, Jenn Schneider, asking you to please clean out your inbox because it’s dangerously large. By using e-mail archiving you can quickly and easily save all the e-mail you would like. That’s right ALL. OF. YOUR. E-MAIL. The video tutorial below will teach you all you need to know about e-mail archiving your St. Paul’s School e-mail account. Enjoy!

02

Feb

System Restore: Your best friend in a bad situation

One day your computer is working perfectly. The next it’s littered with viruses and pop-ups, to the point where you can’t even use your computer. What did you do? A lot of things can cause viruses and pop-ups. What if I told you there was a way to restore your computer to a point when it was working perfectly and you wouldn’t lose any documents, pictures, or programs you installed on your computer? There is a way: System Restore. System Restore is a utility installed on all Windows XP, Vista, and 7 computers that allows you to restore your computer to a previous date when everything was working properly. The next time your computer starts acting up, instead of running your computer to a computer-repair shop, try running system restore first. It will probably save you a lot of money and aggravation. Below is a video tutorial on how to use system restore in Windows XP and Windows 7. (note: The process for Windows Vista is the same for Windows 7)

28

Jan

Must Have Software

There is a bunch of software out there. Some good, some bad but there are some programs that are must have’s on any computer.

First, and most importantly, virus protection. Whether you’re buying a brand new computer or getting your hands on a previously owned one, you need to have virus protection if you’re using a PC. Microsoft Security Essentials makes an excellent product and it’s free! Click here to see our blog about Microsoft Security Essentials.

Have you ever gone to a webpage and things just don’t look right? You see square boxes with little red x’s in the top left hand corner and can’t figure out why you can’t view the content of the page properly. These two small programs will make all of your worries go away and will help your web experience tremendously. Adobe Flash Player allows you to view video on web pages properly. The majority of sites on the Internet are now using Flash Player and if you don’t have it installed, the page will not load correctly. Java… no not the coffee. Java is a small program that allows certain scripts to run on webpages. These scripts allow special content of the page to load correctly. Without this program installed, you could see those ugly square boxes with red x’s.

VLC Media Player: VLC Media Player is an excellent audio/video content player that installs special codecs (codecs are special files that allow certain types of video to play) on your computer that allows all types of audio/video to play. Windows comes with Window Media Player but it lacks several different codecs that Microsoft doesn’t support. With VLC Media Player you get all the codecs you need with one simple program.

We all know that Microsoft Office is essential. We need it to create word documents, spreadsheets, and power point presentations. The problem is Office is EXPENSIVE. There is a free program out there called Open Office. Open office contains its own version of Word, Excel, and Power Point. The program allows you to create, edit, and save documents/spreadsheets/power points all in a format that is compatible with Microsoft Office. Oh and did I mention it’s free? This is an excellent piece of software that is a must have if you don’t want to fork out the dough for Microsoft Office.

Real Player: See our blog about Real Player. With Real Player installed you have the option of downloading any video online and storing it on your local computer. What an excellent way to save video’s that you really want to keep.

iTunes: Whether you want to download your favorite tunes and organize them or subscribe to your favorite podcasts, iTunes is a software must have.

Mozilla Firefox: Much like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox is a web browser that allows you to view different web pages and Internet content. People usually say “I use Firefox because it’s faster than Internet Explorer.” That’s true to an extent. Your Internet speed will be only as fast as the connection to your computer. The reason why people seem to think Firefox is faster than Internet Explorer is because the program is able to process scripts much faster which allow Internet pages to load faster. I use Firefox as my default browser and love it.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware: The second most important piece of software on this list. This program IS NOT virus protection but it does remove spyware and viruses from your computer. This program DOES NOT protect your computer in real time from viruses. Ideally, you should have an antivirus program installed on your computer as well as this piece of software. This software does a fantastic job of removing “garbage” from your computer and allows it to run properly. You have to initiate the scan on this program but you’ll only need to run a scan twice a month or so to keep your computer in tip top shape. (Note: once this program is installed make sure you click on the update tab to install the latest updates for this software. Without the latest updates, the software will not pick up any “garbage” that’s new)

Mint: Mint is not a program you install on your computer per se, but it’s a website you go to. www.mint.com allows you to track all of your financial information in one, free, secure, easy to use website.  You can link your bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts, and various other financial accounts all to this website for a full glimpse of your entire financial portfolio. You can even schedule bill reminders and payments from this site. It’s a great way to get yourself financially organized to actually see where every penny goes.

Looking for a way to organize all those photos at home? Windows Live Photo Gallery is great way to organize your photos. The program does it all for you! You simply drag and drop your photos into the program and it organizes them by date. You can even tag people in the photos so you can simply search for people instead of clicking through pictures. (note: Windows 7 required for Windows Live Photogallery) If you don’t have Windows 7, Picasa is a great, free alternative that will allow you to store, edit, and organize your photos.

Adobe Reader: Everyone has used Adobe Reader before. The program is pretty basic and it allows you to view (not edit) pdf documents.

Carbonite: You need to backup all of the data on your computer to protect yourself in case something were to happen to your computer. By using Carbonite you can. See our blog about Carbonite.

We hope you make use of this must have software. All of the above are free with the exception of Carbonite which costs $54.95 per year. You can click on each italicized word to be taken directly to the download page for each piece of software. Enjoy!

25

Jan

Photography: Intimidating? Yes, but you can do it

I am a football fan. I love football. Do you know how sometimes in training camp the veteran players will make the rookies carry their pads and helmet off the field after practice simply because they don’t feel like doing it and it serves as kind of an initiation? Well I am certainly still a rookie at photography and probably couldn’t hold Laura Kurz’ or Ed Brown’s pads at this point. Last year around Christmas I took the plunge from one of your basic point and shoot digital cameras to a more advanced DSLR (digital single-lens reflex). DSLR cameras are usually bigger than normal point and shoot cameras and have several options that make photography much more confusing than using a point and shoot camera.

Regardless of which type of camera you have (a basic point and shoot or more advanced DSLR) I am going to outline some pointers in this blog that have helped me and will help you. All camera’s usually have an assortment of shooting modes… you have your portrait mode, your landscape mode, your night shot mode, and various other pre-programmed camera modes. All you have to do is turn the dial to the setting that you want and shoot away, regardless of which type of camera you have. Well, have you ever been in a place where you use one of these pre-programmed modes and you just don’t get the result you’re looking for? Let me guess most of these blurry shots come in low light situations, right? The most common answer… use the flash. The flash will take all that blurriness away and make everything perfect. Sure you can use the flash and you probably will get the picture you’re looking for but the subject(s) will be drowned in artificial whiteness and natural color will be taken away.

The uncommon answer? Venture into the camera’s manual modes. There are three manual modes on most camera’s that will help you make your pictures look fantastic as long as you know how to use them. These three modes are Tv (shutter priority), Av (aperture priority), and M (Full Manual Mode). Before going any further let me explain what these three modes mean.

What is Tv? Tv is the shutter speed of the camera. Do you ever take pictures of your kids playing sports and think you got a great action shot of them only to look down at the LCD screen and realize it’s a blurry mess? This is because your shutter speed on the camera was not fast enough for the shot. In this mode, if you’re shooting action shots, your shutter speed should be set extremely high so the camera’s shutter captures the image as fast as possible. This will make the image as clear as possible without any of the blur.

What is Av? Av is aperture control of the camera. In other words, this mode controls how much light gets into the camera. Remember the low light scenario we were talking about a few paragraphs up? This is the mode that will ease all of your pain in low light scenarios. This mode also controls the depth of field of a picture. Have you ever seen a professional photo where the subject sticks out but the background is blurry? That’s right you can do that too… with your current camera… within the Av mode. Within the camera there is a small lens, which resembles a human eye, that gets bigger and smaller depending upon what the aperture is set at. If the aperture is set at a low number the lens gets bigger, allowing more light in. If the aperture is set high, the lens gets smaller allowing less light in. So to paraphrase… low aperture number = more light. High aperture number = less light. So what would you use in a low light scenario? You want as much light coming into the camera as possible, so you would use the lowest aperture number possible.

What is Manual? Now that you have an idea of what Tv and Av do, it will be easier to explain manual mode. When you are in Tv, you are saying to the camera “ok I’ll select the shutter speed but I want you to select the aperture.” When you are in Av, you are saying to the camera “I’ll select the aperture but I want you to select the shutter speed.” In full manual mode, you select all the settings… aperture AND shutter speed. This mode can be a bit overwhelming at first but I promise you if you get used to this mode, you’ll never go back to those pre-programmed modes and your pictures will turn out so much better. If you want full control of your camera, this is the mode you want to be in. Tv and Av are great modes and will give you better results than any of the pre-programmed modes, but sometimes you need an excessive amount of light or need a faster shutter speed than the camera will pick for you. When defining your settings within manual mode, here’s your cheat sheet:

Av: lower number = more light coming into the camera. Higher number = less light coming into camera

Tv: the lower (slower) the shutter speed = more light coming into camera. the higher (faster) the shutter speed = less light coming into camera.

Try starting off in Av and Tv separately so you can get the hang of what each mode really does. Then as you get the hang of them, venture into the manual mode to apply both settings at one time.

Another main aspect of a camera that people often forget or don’t even know about is the ISO feature. On most camera’s an ISO level can go from 100 to 800 but on some DSLR’s the ISO feature can go up to 1600 or even 3000. Remember back in the days of loading film into your camera you had to buy 100 or 200 ISO film if you were going to be outside shooting pictures or 700 or 800 ISO film if you were going to be shooting in low light? Well now days with digital camera’s the ISO feature is included within the camera and all you have to do is adjust the ISO setting depending on your lighting conditions. 100-400 ISO should be used in outside-fair lighting conditions. 400-800 should be used when you’re shooting inside. The only downside to the ISO feature is, the higher the ISO you select the more noise and grain your picture will have.

Hopefully these four basic photography skills will help you along your way to becoming a pretty good hobbyist photographer. After you get these down pat, then you can venture into the world of white balance, telephoto lenses, and manual exposure times… haha… I know I’ve already made your brain spin too much today. But let’s get the basics down first. Hopefully my rookie terminology helped you understand a little bit more about photography. Your memories will thank you for reading this blog. 

21

Jan

How to sign up for e-mail web alerts

Are you having trouble signing up for e-mail web alerts through our website? By having e-mail web alerts, you will receive SP breaking news right in your Inbox as soon as it’s posted on our website. Here is a video tutorial on how to sign up!

If you have any other questions about this process please feel free to call us at 410-825-4400 ext 3400 or email us at helpdesk@stpaulsschool.org