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Freeman of the Press: Hudson Library has help for those lost in Windows 8

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published: February 23, 2014 12:00 AM

When I recently bought a new personal computer with Windows 8 operating system on it, I had to go back to the store to find out how to work my computer. Windows 8 is so different from Windows Vista, which I had been using for seven years. I was lost. I discovered I wasn't the only one.

The Hudson Library and Historical Society offers Tech classes on different computer software. The class Feb. 18 on Windows 8 was filled in spite of the snowy weather.

Most of the 50 people attending the class have Windows 8 but don't like it. Some of the complaints included how to eliminate or move the tiles, or colorful boxes on the screen, for different applications.

Instead of icons, the start menu has tiles to coordinate applications and information between tablets and smart phones.

It is designed to be easier for touchscreens, which nearly all devices are moving toward.

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The instructor was informative and went through step by step to explain how the tiles can be added or removed.

One of the most important things to learn about are the "charms," or task buttons, that include a search feature, a share button, start menu icon, devices and settings.

The instructor showed how to access the charms by going to a corner of the screen with the mouse. Corners and swiping down are new techniques for accessing applications. She showed how to use the mouse on laptops and swiping on touchscreen devices.

There is a whole language of touch for touchscreen devices, and the mouse now needs to imitate the motions with positioning at edges and hovering techniques.

The start menu tiles can be customized for the user. I moved my commonly used tiles to the left side of the screen and minimized the ones I don't use for now. She showed how to delete the ones you don't need from the Start menu. The icon is hidden in the left lower corner but appears if you hover.

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I understand the need for tiles on smart phones. The phone is used to communicate with friends and family or to look up information while you're on the go. A notebook is similarly used at meetings, in lunchrooms or in waiting rooms, but a laptop, especially mine, is for home. It replaces the cumbersome desktop tower and sits on my desk most of the time. I use it for writing, creating financial reports and organizing photos.

Photo accessibility was one of the biggest complaints by those attending the class. Photos disappear in Windows 8 never to be seen again -- by anyone. The instructor found a Photo Library app, but I haven't tried it.

I still use my old laptop for photos and pray the computer doesn't die anytime soon. Maybe some people like the latest gadgets and newest software, but I wait as long as possible for new technology and like to create a buffer period between computers. I used my Windows 95 software and desktop tower and monitor until the hard drive was so corrupted, it couldn't be saved. But I bought a laptop before its death happened and transferred files just in time.

I remember hating Windows Vista when first using it. Now it seems like an old friend, especially compared to Windows 8. Some day I may fall in love with Windows 8, but the magic just isn't there for now.

Especially since Windows 8.1 can be downloaded and Windows 9 is on the horizon. I need time to develop a relationship with a machine.

The instructor provided a handout to review everything she had covered and answered questions after her presentation. If you're having problems with understanding new technology, the free classes are a great place to start.

The Hudson Library and Historical Society offers classes for free listed under "events program" and "computer classes" on its website www.hudsonlibrary.org with a register online button for signing up for the class. They can also be found within the Hudson Hub-Times under "Library Events." Classes like Window 8 fill up, so sign up early if you're interested in a topic. Other classes include Word, Excel, Powerpoint, iPad, Wordpress, Prezi, Pinterest and Facebook.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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