Step out of your comfort zone & find some magic!

In my last post, I talked about facing fears, and my new habit of taking on more things that challenge me.  Blogging was one of those fears.  As such, I put off starting for over a year, and I’m still not doing it regularly, so I want that to change…

When it comes to doing things that require me to step out of my comfort zone, I know that it’s immediately less scary as I soon as I step into my fear.  My thoughts about the fear are always worse than actually doing what I’m afraid to do. Go figure!

So, even though it makes me uncomfortable, I regularly accept new challenges…

A couple of years back, I started the #SSSVEDA Challenge with Savvy Sexy Social, posting a Vlog (video blog) Every Day in August (VEDA).

I didn’t know what I’d be talking about, and I didn’t know how the videos would turn out, but I knew – guaranteed – that they’d be a lot better by the end of the August, because I’d have 31 days of LIVE practice!

Even though the team @SavvySexySocial offered feedback, I’d love to hear from you! You can find a handful of my videos by subscribing to my YouTube channel or by following my tweets. Please share your thoughts on any of those forums, tell me what you think of my efforts and let me know if you have any questions I can help with.

I’m looking forward to creating some magic!  🙂


Don’t let your fears stop you!

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a public event that was sure to be an evening of great information.  That knowledge didn’t change the fact that I was terrified at the prospect of being in a large group of people, only knowing the friend who’d invited me.

Hours before the event, I experienced a severe anxiety attack, and I was almost in tears at the thought of going.  I called my friend, got lots of support and understanding, and an offer to meet me out front, so I was prepared to face this fear so it no longer crippled me.

As it turned out, I met a handful of really nice folks, and even ended up on stage, telling my story to over 300 strangers.  My stomach was in knots, my hands were sweating, but my friends were beside me and I was proud of myself!  Despite that initial terror, I got up and spoke publicly and, even though the fear is still there, it’s not nearly as strong as it was, because I took away some of its power over me.

In the past, I made it a habit to put things off that were scary, and I became very good at procrastination.  Now, though, I’m breaking that habit, and challenging myself more.  I realized that I’m missing out on life if I let my fears control what I do and don’t do.

There’s a saying I’ve heard a lot over the years:  “The only way to GET through it is to GO through it!”  I am a firm believer in the power of facing your demons,  feeling the feelings that come up and then moving forward a astronger, more confident person.

What are some challenges you’ve overcome?  I’d love to hear what you’ve mastered, how you did it and how you felt in the process.  Please share your thoughts and tools for success 🙂

Family is everything…

I used to think that I could only blog about  topics that were directly linked to computer learning.  Recently, though, I’ve decided to simply write what’s on my mind.  Those of you who choose to read it will get a better idea of who I am and how I live my life…

When I first started helping other people on their computers, I began with my mum.  We started with the basics, but when I was considering a job overseas, the topics of discussion got a bit more intense.  My mother was so sad at the thought of not being able to see me and talk to me easily that I proceeded to show her ways in which we could connect and talk, face-to-face, no matter where in the world I was.  We talked about getting her a web camera, and downloading the free Skype software that would let us see and talk to each other on our computer screens.

As it turned out, I didn’t move overseas; I’m now only three hours away and talk to my mum every Sunday.  The computer lesson topics changed a bit, but she’s still learning about how to connect – with people and information from all over the world.

Family is everything to me, and I don’t mean just the family I was born into.  To me, family refers to the people in my life who have helped to shape me into the person I am, who’ve made a difference in my life, and whom I love dearly and miss terribly when we’re apart.

My cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident two weeks ago, and my aunt is out in Alberta, three provinces away.  I talk to her fairly regularly, but really wish I could be there for her now, as she mourns the loss of her son…

Technology has given us the opportunity to connect with family and friends all over the world, whether it’s by making a telephone call or by using free software on our computers.  Please, do yourself a favour, and reach out to the people who matter to you in whatever way you can!

Family is everything…

Professional-level computer classes…

Trina Standford, Employment Trainer PQES“Kerri has amazing patience and knows how to work with clients from differing backgrounds and experience levels. Her enthusiasm is contagious and it excites the students and makes learning fun!

At the Pinecrest-Queensway Employment Services Centre, we have many clients who can’t even turn a computer on. During Kerri’s workshops, they begin at this stage, but by the end, they have a new-found confidence that comes from feeling proud that they can send an email, browse the web for information and actually type a letter or document they may need for their job search.

The benefits to our clients are many, the most prominent being access to professional-level computer classes taught by someone with a wealth of experience and knowledge teaching adults new technology. They learn in a non-judgmental environment, where they feel safe to learn and explore. Kerri does an amazing job and we’re happy to have her in our centre!”

~ Trina Stanford, Employment Trainer

Pinecrest-Queensway Employment Services

USB Hubs – Like an extension cord for your hardware

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of stuff plugged into my computer, and I frequently run out of space.

On my desktop computer, there are only two USB ports on the front, and one of them is loose, so I don’t use it.  There are other ports on the back of the tower, but they’re hard to reach, so I don’t use them either. On my laptop, there are only two USB ports, so when I plug in my printer and my mouse, there’s no room for a memory stick, or a camera, or even my Kobo e-reader to charge.

My suggestion?  Get a USB hub, like the one pictured here from Canada Computers.

If you discover that your computer doesn’t have enough USB ports for the hardware you want to plug in, go to your favourite computer store and buy a USB hub.  Like an extension cord in your home, a USB hub uses one plug to attach to your computer while providing multiple ports for other hardware, such as an external mouse or keyboard, flash drive, etc.

Your learning style begins at home…

When I was growing up, my dad was Mr. Fix-It.  Not one of those guys you see on reality shows who don’t know what they’re doing, but a guy who could do just about anything.  Whether it’s plumbing, electrical, or just fixing a squeaky screen door, my dad continues to take great care of my parents’ home, and he’s in his seventies now.  He even installed an underground watering system in both the front and back yards, and is able to explain how to take care of it in a way that I understand…

I feel very blessed to have grown up in a family where we were allowed to ask questions.  I used to sit on a tall stool when my dad was in his workshop, watching as he worked, asking questions and getting answers that allowed me to keep learning!

Barry Quirt in his workshop, Computer Tutoring Ottawa When you need to know how to do something, the easiest way to find a solution is to ask someone for help.  Ideally, the person you’ve asked will take the time to show you how…

For me, I like to learn through hands-on experience.  I like to do things myself, so that my mind connects with my body as I complete the task, and then the entire process becomes anchored in my own experience.

More often than not, I hear from my clients about circumstances that are far less helpful. When they have questions, they ask a friend or family member, but they often don’t get what they need.

Many of the stories I hear have the helpers actually doing the tasks, instead of showing my clients HOW to do it.  I guess it’s easier and faster that way, but it does nothing to help anyone learn.  All it does is leave them dependent on someone else to get things done, because they never have a chance to try and do it on their own.


In workshops, I use a presentation of pictures to teach.  Clients see the images, connect them to the task we’re discussing, and then practice through hands-on experience.  I’ve run a number of workshops, and the feedback I get is usually quite positive.

When I teach lessons one-on-one, I won’t touch the mouse of my client, because I don’t believe they’ll learn as well if I do the task for them.  I will guide them with my words, and describe to them what part of the screen they’re looking for, or which button to use on the mouse, but I won’t do it for them.  My goal is to help them learn to do it for themselves, and my methods are very effective!

If you happen to know someone who comes to you for help, take a moment before offering to do it for them, and consider asking them exactly what they need. Perhaps it’ll take a few extra minutes, but if you take the time to let them learn, they will really appreciate the lesson.  Plus, there’s a good chance that they’ll ask less of you as they learn more about what they can do for themselves!


Laptop touch-pad or external mouse?

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like using the touch-pad on my laptop.  I find it really challenging to get the accuracy I’ve become accustomed to by using a mouse, plus I find it annoying that I have to use two hands: one to move and one to click.  Maybe I’m not doing it right but, either way, I’ve found a solution that works for me.

(Since the majority of computer users are right-handed, touch-pads and mice are set up to serve right-handed people by default.  However, the settings can easily be changed for left-handed people, so use whatever hand is most comfortable.  The description below is for right-handed users.)

First, let’s look at the terms and proper uses.



Point Using your finger on the sensor of the touch-pad or the mouse itself, move the pointer around the screen
Click Using your pointer finger of the right hand, click once on the left button to select an item
Double-click Keeping the mouse pointer still, click the left button twice in rapid succession, opening the item double-clicked
Right-click Clicking the right button with your ring finger opens a new menu, and allows the user to quickly access commands that are commonly used (cut, copy and paste, etc.)
Click & Drag Pointing at an item, click and hold the left button while moving your finger (on the touch pad) or the mouse
Scroll Wheel Rolling the scroll wheel up and down will move the visible part of the screen, either horizontally or vertically


Touch pad or…

A touch-pad on a laptop is used to translate the movement of a person’s finger into the relative position of the pointer on a laptop screen.  With laptops being small, touch-pads offer the same capability of a computer mouse while requiring less space.

If you find it challenging to work your way around a computer screen using the touch-pad like I do, perhaps consider getting yourself an external mouse.

External Mouse

When choosing a mouse, you have a number of options.   Pictured to the left is a standard, corded mouse which simply plugs into your computer.  You can also opt to use a full-size wireless mouse that gets its power from batteries, or even a palm-sized wireless mouse, that literally fits in the palm of your hand.

If you have dexterity challenges, or simply want a change from using the standard mouse, you might choose to use a trackball mouse. I suffer from nerve damage in my hands from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, so using a normal mouse for any length of time causes weakness and pain.  I was very grateful when a friend introduced me to a trackball mouse.

Logitech Trackball mouseAs you can see from the image on the right (this is the mouse that I have), the ball is on the top of this particular model.  To use this type of trackball mouse, the ball is rolled with your index and middle fingers while you click with your thumb and ring finger  (On other trackball mice, the ball might be on the side, when you’d use  your thumb to move the ball and then click with your fingers.) Regardless of which trackball mouse you use, the mouse and your hand stays in one place, and only the ball moves around.

Choosing the Best Fit

Whichever you decide to use – a standard, corded mouse, a wireless mouse or a trackball mouse – I strongly suggest that you go into a computer store and ask to try out the different types of mice available.  Some mice are larger than others, which are perfect for folks with larger hands, but would prove to be challenging to a user with smaller hands.  The trackball mice have options as well, so try them out to see if you’d rather move the ball with your fingers or your thumb.  Your comfort level with the mouse you use really makes a difference in how enjoyable your time on the computer is, plus it can help save you from a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).  Do yourself a favour and try one on for size.  Make sure to find the mouse that’s right for you!


Facebook Business Page – Default or Customized?

Do you have a customized business page on Facebook, or is your business being represented on Facebook by their default page, with details pulled from Wikipedia?  This is important if you want your business portrayed accurately!

If you’re unsure as to how to get to your business page, go to your Facebook profile and look in the About section.  If you’ve correctly linked your profile and page, you will see the first line under your profile picture lists your job title and the name of your business, and it will appear directly below your profile picture, as seen in the image to the left.  It appears as a link (blue and underlined), so you can click on it to get directly to the page that represents your business.

When you click on that link, you will be taken to a business page, and your first glance will tell you if you have work to do immediately!  If you see an almost-blank page, with a sterile-looking description of your business or, even worse, no business description at all, along with a faded image of a briefcase on the left side of the page, then you’re looking at the default business page that Facebook creates for you.  If you’ve only identified your role in business as self-employed, this is how it will look:

Sadly, I know a number of people whose businesses are depicted this way on Facebook, and it’s not at all effective in developing a web presence.  Do yourself a favour and take the time to create a proper business page.  Facebook will even walk you through the basic steps here:  Then, all you need is a logo, an image for your cover photo, and a description of your business, and you’ll start generating leads and building a client base, all for the minimal cost of your time.

Compare CD/DVD drives on a Laptop

CDs (Compact Discs) and DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs) are used to store digital data.  All laptops come equipped with a CD player, and some have the capacity to also play DVDs.  (Depending on the machine, your laptop may also be able to record CDs and/or DVDs.)

Initially, CDs and DVDs were used for music and movies respectively and then later were adapted to be writable, meaning you could actually create and store your own data CDs/DVDs.  A standard CD will hold up to 80 minutes of audio files, and 700 KB (kilobytes) of data, while the most common DVD will store up to 4.7 GB (gigabytes) of data and up to seven hours of CD-quality audio.

Some CD/DVD players are simply a slot on the side of the laptop (as pictured above), and others are drawers that pop out (as seen to the right).  For these, there will be either a small indentation on the drawer that you can push, or a small button.  The drawer may only pop out slightly, so you’ll have to pull it the rest of the way open.

CDs and DVDs are played with the written side facing up, unless you have a double-sided disc, when you can access both sides.

Computer Tip: Safety First – Protect Your Surfaces!

Your laptop is a machine, and holds its power in a battery, which is located on the bottom of the laptop. There are vents along the side of the laptop that help to keep the battery from overheating.

NEVER block those vents. Resting your laptop on a blanket, pillow or fluffy towel is unsafe, and can cause the battery to overheat, causing damage to your computer. Make sure your laptop is sitting on a hard flat surface, and that the vents are not blocked.

Whatever your laptop is sitting on will also heat up, and tabletop surfaces can be damaged by the excess heat.

To be safe, consider using a trivet, hot pad or perhaps a ceramic tile to rest your laptop on, so that any excessive heat does not damage your desk or tabletop.