Social Media – Year in Review

Can we remember a time when we didn’t have  Facebook updates, LinkedIn groups, and the day recapped in  tweets – oh – and Pinterest? Social media has a firm hold in personal life, business and government. This infographic tells the story for 2012 – a story that includes the rise of Pinterest, the competition between Google+ and Facebook (who is winning?), usage in hours, numbers of people, and stock prices.

The State of Social Media 2012 by The SEO Company
The State of Social Media 2012 by The SEO Company

Online Tech Tutorials

Learning a new software application requires more time than we are usually willing to give it.  A few “how to” searches might provide an answer to a single problem but won’t provide a big picture of the breadth of function in the application.  For that it is better to turn to online tutorials. There are several sites than can help us with that.

For any of Microsoft’s Office products, start with Office Training where you’ll find links for Office 365, Office for tablets and phones, and earlier versions of desktop Office . These are free video screencasts showing how to do things.

Titan Tech Training also has several YouTube videos on Office 2010 products and Adobe Creative Suite. These have been done by California State University Fullerton.

Alison specializes in providing free interactive, self-paced courses in workplace skills. It has a wide range of subjects and many publishers. IT Training is one of its strengths. There are instructions in everything from Google Docs to HTML5 to Skype.

Lynda is all about learning software, creative and business skills. It delivers e-learning through high quality videos. Browse by subject or by software to find what you need. There is a free trial period, after which subscription is $25 / month.

If you plan a sustained training program for yourself, consider the points in this article at LifeHacker – How to Decide Whether to Invest in an Online Training Program  (Dec 24, 2012). Above all – set your goal, find the time, and apply what you learn.

Postscript (Jan 4, 2013):, and arm of the Goodwill Community Foundation, also has some step-by-step illustrated tutorials on using computers, the internet, MS Office products, and searching with Google. The tutorial on Google search was quite good (although they’ll have to update the screen shots for Google’s latest redesign).

I liked the description – “® creates and provides quality, innovative online learning opportunities to anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy and math skills needed to be successful in both work and life. ”

Postscript (Mar 22, 2013): Courses online with certificate – some in computer science, textbooks, ebooks, movies, k-12 resources – and all free – at Open Culture

Postscript (Mar 11, 2015): If you are Excel challenged, Excel Easy will show you the steps for using basic function through to advanced. These free  tutorials have clear instructions and are well illustrated with screenshots. Reading these will be  much faster than watching a video.

Postscript (May 4, 2015): Learn how to use Excel 2013 at OfficeTuts is another good choice for learning Excel. There are nine modules beginning with Getting Started up to Macro & VBA. These well-written lessons provide illustrated explanations and instructions. If you need to use Excel, this will be a good way to get up to speed. Also available in Polish.

Postscript (April 10, 2016):
Spreadsheet says it makes using Excel easy. Has tutorials with exercises.

Guru99 has a very large library of video tutorials for learning more about computers and some software. Does have a few more general topics such as iCloud.

Postscript (May 10, 2016):
Much more than meets the eye can be done with Excel as this guide shows – The Search Engine Optimisers (SEOs) Guide to Excel. Although written for SEOs, all can benefit from the chapters on tables of data, text, dates and days, and errors. Well written and illustrated.

Custom Search from the Browser

Speed up searches at individual sites or at a selected search engine directly from your browser.  Chrome and Firefox are especially well suited for creating custom searches.

Five Custom Searches You Should Enable In Your Browser Right Now by Whitson Gordon, LifeHacker (Dec 28)

“These custom searches are very easy to set up. In Chrome, just right-click on the address bar and choose “Edit Search Engines.” You can edit existing ones or add your own, giving them a name, URL, and a keyword that you’ll type to initiate the search (like the example of lh above. Firefox users just need to create a bookmark with the necessary name, URL, and keyword, and it’ll work like a custom search engine when you type that keyword into your browser.”

Armed with that knowledge, follow the examples given in the posting of setting up custom searches on date ranges, particular topics, dictionaries, favourite sites.