Category Archives: Courses


TechTalks – new short courses

facebook-sig1These two hour courses will be introduced in Term 4, commencing Monday 10th October.

Topics include:

  • Bluetooth
  • The Cloud
  • Backing Up
  • Install a program
  • Make your TV smarter
  • Using your computer to make phone calls
  • Letting others use your PC
  • Security on your PC.

Check what each course offers under Course descriptions.


Cloud computing

Cloud computing is becoming more and more popular.
Basically Cloud Computing allows you to store your files, be they documents, photos, music or videos on the computer of service providers. These files can then be accessed through the Internet from PCs, Laptops, Tablets and smartphones. Files can also be shared with friends, family and other associates.
Some Cloud Computing services also allow you to create word processed documents, spreadsheets and presentations using software apps on the Web.
PCPS runs three short courses of 2 hours duration on these cloud services:

  • DropBox – one of the most popular services offering 2 GB free storage
  • Microsoft SkyDrive offers 7 GB of free storage and has web apps for word processing, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations
  • Google Drive (sometimes called G-Drive). Google offers 15 GB storage over all its products. It also has web apps for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.

During each of these short courses you will learn how to sign up for the free services, upload and share files as well as using the wep apps.


Busy afternoon planning for Term 4 courses

John and students with iPad

John Lee taking a photo of the iPad special interest group participants.

Members and enquirers can look forward to an emphasis on tablets and iPads in Term 4, commencing in October. That’s where our demand is coming from. Everything from “I’m confused, what’s the best tablet to buy?”, to How do I set my tablet up?” and “What are the best apps to choose?”

We shall be holding presentations at our Open Day, an information session during the term, and two formal courses – one for iPads and the other for Android tablets.

Expect to see the full ten week program in printable form early next week. There were at least 20 trainers and assistant trainers participating in the planning session with training co-ordinator Michael Myers.

As usual, ParraPals will not be conducting classes during the two days of the ASCCA Conference in November. A number of trainers will be away at various times, and working around their holidays and other commitments is always tricky, but it can be done.

Skills for a Mature Aged Workforce

Pete attended the first Skills for a Mature Aged Workforce training program run by ASCCA with assistance from Microsoft. There were 12 three hour sessions run by Diane Brentnall, Theresa Wilson and Sirkka Duncan, with guest speakers on job hunting and Centrelink.

The program is designed for mature age people intended to return to the work force. As well as giving skills in creating a CV, getting advice from a recruitment agency on job hunting and using the internet to find a job, it also covered an introduction to Windows 7 and MS Office 2007 including Word, Excel and Outlook.

Pete is happily retired but found the Windows 7 and Office 2007 components, which were the bulk of the course, very interesting and informative.

The instructors provided excellent notes. Future courses will have a maximum of 10 participants and the course is very hands on. It costs $125 but this is great value for 36 hours of training and Pete recommends it. For more information phone ASCCA on 9286 3871.

Surprises in store at Friday’s members’ meeting

It seems that the Digital Photo Story class – see the photo – has some surprises in store for us on Friday at the members’ meeting.  What they are I do not know – your president and Photo Story trainer John doesn’t share all his secrets with me!

I do know they are putting a project together.  So either they are going to show us something, or maybe make us stars.  Who knows?  So you’d better come along and find out. The meeting starts at 9.30am and finishes at 11.30, and a good morning tea can be expected since our caterer Hazel is blooming with health once again.

We are collecting Gmail accounts, since we want to set up a Club Calendar with all our events and meetings listed.  So if you have one, let us know at margaret.tucker2153 at .

Busy days at the club – plans for Win7

We are now into Week 3 of our fourth year at Parramatta Computer Pals and the club rooms are buzzing.  Most of our current courses are full to capacity, and we are slowly filling up the five week courses commencing at the end of February. There are also a few vacancies in our two Monday short courses in Email Refresher and Skype. All our courses finish just before Easter.

Just about all classes now have buddies who assist the trainer by helping those students who feel less confident than other class members or who need help to catch up.  I for one couldn’t do without my buddy in Google Tools, even though my students are all fairly experienced computer enthusiasts.  Since late last year, we have included our growing crew of buddies in our trainers’ meetings, organised by Judy Joyce (pictured with trainer Peter Grove), our training coordinator.  This has proved to be very worthwhile, with buddies contributing new ideas, and feeding back comments from our students.

This term we are introducing two new courses – an Email Refresher two hour course to be held on two occasions in weeks 6 and 7, and a Web Design course which has commenced with six intrepid starters one hour per week for nine weeks, extending for another two hours per week in weeks 6-9.  This is very much a pilot project since there are so many ways to learn web design, and each student will have a different goal.  It is very likely that this course will become a formalised Special Interest Group, but we’ll see.

In late January, Judy and Deborah organised a gathering of 17 trainers and buddies to introduce us to Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7.  We recently acquired a new laptop with Win7, but only 3-4 of us had experience with Win7. It is really important we become familiar with it as quickly as possible, since we are now receiving enquiries from members who have recently purchased PCs and laptops with the new system.

Rather than try and “triple boot” the training room PCs, we decided that the differences between Vista and Win7 were not so great that we couldn’t include Win7 students in the same class as Vista students.  The trainer and buddy would explain the differences and make the Win7 student feel confident to use their home computer.

After Deborah demonstrated some of the features of Win7, we discussed how all trainers and buddies could best become familiar with Win7.  We decided that each trainer – with priority given to those who currently taught Beginners 1 & 2 in Vista – should borrow the new Win7 laptop and practice using the operating system.  The Laptop would also have a Professor Teaches Win7 tutorial loaded.  The laptop would be available for 2-3 days or over a weekend, but between use would be available in the club rooms for demonstrations and practice.

Preparing for this afternoon’s lesson on Blogging

Whilst John is teaching Internet and Email this morning to his four eager students, I am at home preparing some notes. (We had a busy and sociable weekend and spent last week down the coast having a relaxing break).

In preparing these notes, I am using three software applications. These are Microsoft Word 2007, the Internet (Google of course), and a little tool you have probably never heard of called MWSnap. This enables me to take screen shots to place in the training notes, but is much more versatile than Windows Print Screen (PrtSc key on your keyboard). I can “snap” and copy (as an image) a menu or any rectangular area. You can download MWSnap at

A similar program is called Faststone Capture. Do a Google search for Faststone Capture and see whether you’d prefer to use that rather than MWSnap.

I’ll see you (Google Tool students, that is) at 1.00pm. You can create your first blog then.