Home Backup Solution

Updated: 6th Jan 2019

Importance of backing up Your data

It cannot be stressed enough to a computer user the importance of making backup copies of data files held on a home computer. In the event of computer hard drive failure, computer virus, software program error or theft of your computer, it is always essential to keep backup copies of your data.

After many years of using your computer in the home, your data held on the computer becomes more valuable than the computer itself. This is because the computer is replaceable while the data in most cases can be hard to replace because producing documents, spreadsheets and databases is a time-consuming process which involves many hours of hard graft and creativity.

Backing-up data is considered to be a boring task by most users so it is usually forgotten about. It is only when it is too late is it realised how important it is and by then it can be almost impossible to retrieve data that has become lost due to reasons mentioned above.

So in future, remember to always take a backup of an important file immediately after creating the first proper version of it. These days this can be easily achieved by using an online backup facility or scheduling a backup to a portable or network drive which are relatively inexpensive and easily installed.

In the rest of this Document, I explain in more detail the basic steps to backup your valuable data so that you can get peace of mind that in the event of a disaster that your data is protected and can be quickly restored and made available for immediate use.

You will no longer have sleepless nights worrying about your home being burgled and your computer stolen as you will have a recent backup of your data kept in a safe location.

Backup process

Step 1 - Identifying data to backup

Identifying and ensuring that the data backed-up is not an easy task especially if you are a keen computer user who creates and updates files on a regular basis. It is essential to keep your data well organised so that you can be sure that the files you backup represent the complete picture. So if you need to recover all your data due to hard disk failure or a stolen computer, you will have confidence that you can recover all your data files.

It’s not always easy to keep files organised, as even though you may have a very systematic approach to storing your data in the appropriate folders, some programs may store important data files outside of Windows Standard folders. So this makes it difficult to be always fully sure that all required files have been backed up.

Figure 1 – Windows 10 Standard folders

It is probably NOT a good idea to use Windows Standard folders for important files, because if you have to reset Windows 10, there is a risk that the files could be deleted even though you specify that they should be kept.

Taking full backups of all your data in one single backup is to be avoided as it is hard to manage and restore from. So, another approach is to categorise your data into the following Backup Types:

Primary Data can be defined as the key data like financial info, career development documents e.g CV and cover letters, family health documents, genealogy database etc. Primary Data should be held in Cloud storage local folders like Google Drive or Onedrive, so that in the event of hard-disk failure, the most up-to-date version would be safe. It should also be password protected as it would contain sensitive information.

Secondary Data can be defined as data that is of less importance than Primary Data but is still essential to be secured in the event of potential data loss. This might include Photos, Home Videos and Video Courses.

Recreatable Data can be defined as data that is recreatable easily or can be downloaded again, e.g Music, YouTube videos, Movies, Magazines etc

It is usually better to create backups by grouping the data to be backed up in a systematic way, so that in the event of having to restore files onto a new computer, the contents of each backup file can easily be identified. So rather than running one backup on a regular basis, it is usually better to group specific data files depending on category of data or project you are working on.

So for example, if you were a keen Photographer who goes out on many field trips, the standard windows folder for storing photographs, i.e Pictures, may be inadequate. So you might need a hierarchy of folders to be created to store the different file types for each location/event covered.

Or in the case of storing Home Admin files, you would have to create additional folders within your main folder e.g Finance, Medical, Children’s Education, Holidays etc.

Home User Data Types

Below is a list of the different types of data that a typical home user would build-up and would need to be backed up regularly.

  • Documents
    • Letters
    • Reports
    • Spreadsheets
    • Mailing lists
  • Email
  • Financial Records
    • Tax Returns
    • Banking records
    • Investment records
  • Photos
  • Music
  • Movies/Videos
  • Contacts inc. email address and phone numbers
  • Saved games
  • Computer and program settings

Step 2 – Produce a Backup Plan

A backup plan is essential if you want to get to point where you are sure you have backed-up all important data to protect you against data loss either due to your own actions e.g. deleting a file by mistake, accidental damage e.g. dropping your laptop, or malicious means e.g. virus attack or theft.

Depending on the importance of your data and the type of user you are, it can help to think in terms of Protection Levels. You can select the level of cover you need to protect you from loss of data and give you peace of mind that you can be up and running again within an hour or so of mishap occurring.

Protection Levels - Basic Cover, Mid-Range Cover or Full Cover – Select based on the importance of your data to you/family/home and type of user you are. So ask yourself - what would be the impact of loss of home user data listed above?

Basic Cover – Store Primary Data in cloud storage like Google Drive, Microsoft Onedrive, or Google Drive, Backup to portable drive and store in car boot, family members house or bank deposit box.

Mid-Range Cover – On top of Basic cover – Set-up automatic backup using simple folder sync software of cloud storage local folders to another cloud storage service or online backup service. Cloud storage like those mentioned above include versioning, so it is possible to restore earlier versions of files if the local file on PC becomes corrupt.

Full-Cover – On top of Mid-Range cover – Set-up full/differential scheduled backup of all data to a NAS Drive. This would work particularly well where there is multiple PC’s in a home and you want to backup automatically on a regular basis.

Definition: NAS Drive - Network-attached storage (NAS) is a type of dedicated file storage device that provides home network PCs with file-based shared storage.

Different types of data obviously have different values. As a rough guide, work out the replacement cost of your files and how much you would pay to replace them. For example, the audio files you ripped from your CDs are not worth much - you could rip them again, or buy digital tracks on iTunes. Your unfinished PhD thesis, blockbuster novel or genealogy database would be worth much more because of the time and effort it would take to recreate it from scratch.

Backup Plan Sample – Full Cover

Folder to Backup Google Drive – 100 GB Onedrive - 1 TB Portable Drive or NAS Drive Backup Type (as above) Frequency
Primary Data Backup Yes Yes Yes Primary Daily
Computer Support Folder Yes Yes Yes Primary Daily
Email exported from Outlook, Gmail or Thunderbird etc Yes Yes Yes Primary Daily
Windows Standard Folders –Documents, Desktop etc Yes Yes Yes Primary Daily
ebook library – Primary Yes Yes Yes Secondary Weekly
Home Movies Yes Yes Yes Secondary Weekly
My Pictures Yes Yes Yes Secondary Weekly
Video for Studies – Recorded Courses, Youtube tutorials Yes Yes Yes Secondary Weekly
Website Backups Yes Yes Yes Secondary Weekly
Music – synchronised with all computers in house No Yes Yes Recreatable Monthly
Saved Games No Yes Yes Recreatable Monthly
Videos for Leisure - Youtube Concerts, Photography No Yes Yes Recreatable Monthly

Step 3 – Carry out Pre-backup of Key Programs

The purpose of the pre-backup step is to export data, from programs or web apps that you use, into data files that can be backed-up. There is no guarantee that these web-based apps you depend on will keep your data safe and they also could be targeted by hackers who might corrupt your data.

First of all, create a Computer Support folder in cloud storage, e.g Google Drive or Onedrive, into which you will create sub-folders to backup key applications that contain important data as listed below.

  1. Archive GMail using Upsafe Gmail Backup or GMVault and save in sub-folder Gmail Backup
  2. Export Evernote notebooks and save in sub-folder Evernote Backup
  3. Export Google Calendar to sub-folder Google Calendar Backup
  4. Archive Facebook Profile, Posts, Photos and save in sub-folder Facebook Archive

Once the pre-backup data has been saved to Computer Support folder the next step is to backup your data using your chosen backup software.

Step 4 – Run main Backup Jobs

There are many backup programs available on the Internet which are reviewed and compared in some detail e.g PC Advisor - Best Backup Software 2018

A good approach is to select 3 programs from a list like one above and download and install trial versions. Then put each one through a backup test so that you can assess its suitability for use as your main backup program.

The first Backup step is to set-up a schedule (default Daily) for the main backup program to backup folders you have marked as Primary Data (as shown in column ‘Backup Type’ in Backup Plan above).

The next step is to set-up a schedule (default Weekly) for the backup of Secondary Data (as shown in column ‘Backup Type’ in Backup Plan above) using main backup program.

Finally, set-up a schedule (default Monthly) for the backup of Recreatable Data using the main backup program.

Step 5 - Test Restore from Backups

It’s all very well carrying out backups regularly, but it is also important, especially after setting-up a new backup job, to test the restore of your data.

So using your main backup program, restore a key folder within your Primary Data e.g Finance, Career Development to a test folder e.g Backup Test Restore - Finance

When the restore is complete check the restore log file to make sure it finished successfully. It may also be necessary to run a comparison of the test restore folder with the actual folder and make sure there are no differences.

As a final test, check that you can access the data by opening a document or spreadsheet in the test restore folder which will give you confidence that data is usable.

Disaster Recovery

Test full set-up of a Backup PC using portable drive containing Primary and Secondary data backups only.

The objective is to make sure that PC is fully operational to carry out your home/office tasks as if you were on your main PC.

Related Tutorials

Produce Expenses Chart in Acemoney Lite Software

This report shows how much money you have spent by subcategory. Report rows represent a subcategory with a total amount. If you double click at the report line, AceMoney shows a list of transactions for the selected subcategory.

The first two steps take you through the download of transactions from your bank and import into Ace Money Lite. The succeeding steps, take you through the categorising of transactions and creation of Sub-categories Report and Chart.

Photo Editing Demo – House

Updated: 18th November 2018

This demo covers the necessary steps to enhance a photo using the 10 Step Post Processing Workflow as outlined by www.cambridgeincolour.com.  You may not need to follow this procedure with all of your photos, but whenever you want to get that special photo looking just right, these steps can make all the difference.

Evaluating Photo

Before you carry out any editing, you have to first of all evaluate the photo to decide which steps you might need to apply.  The display on the camera is so small, captured photos are hard to evaluate properly.  So what do you look for when deciding if one of your photos can be improved?

The main areas to look at are :-

  1. The Tonal Range - range of tones in a photo between pure white and pure black.
  2. Colours - hue, saturation, and brightness can be adjusted.
  3. Flaws in Photo – Small imperfections can be retouched using Photo Editing Program.
  4. Sharpness of Photo – most photos can benefit from sharpening.
  5. Noise – can appear in low light conditions when using high ISO setting.

After evaluating a photo, you should then decide which steps of the Post Processing Workflow should be carried out as shown below.

10 Step Post Processing Workflow Photo of Bedroom
  1. White Balance - temperature and tint adjustment sliders
  1. Exposure - exposure compensation, highlight/shadow recovery
  1. Noise Reduction - during RAW development or using external software
  1. Lens Corrections - distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations
  1. Detail - capture sharpening and local contrast enhancement
  1. Contrast - black point, levels and curves tools
  1. Framing - straighten and crop
  1. Refinements - colour adjustments and selective enhancements
  1. Resizing - enlarge for a print or downsize for the web or email
  1. Output Sharpening - customized for your subject matter and print/screen size

Read more at...
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-photo-editing-workflow.htm

Step 2 – Exposure

The camera settings for this photo are:

Program mode: Aperture priority
Exposure time: 1/250s
Aperture: F10
ISO: 250
Exposure bias: -1

Figure: Photo of house before any adjustments made

When taking this photo, I used Aperture Priority program as I wanted to be able to set a small aperture for maximum depth of field so that the wall on the right would be sharp. To prevent the sky from becoming overexposed, I set the exposure bias to: -1 which has the effect of reducing exposure by -1 stop. Notice how the sky is properly exposed but the shadows are too dark.

The exposure adjustment settings for this photo are:

Lights: -25 – to recover slightly blown out sky
Shadows: 60 – to brighten up shadows
Contrast: -10 – to slightly lower contrast

Figure: After making exposure adjustments

As you can see above, the exposure and contrast is now more accurate. Its worth mentioning also, that these adjustments were made using a good quality monitor where the colours and contrast are fairly accurate.

Step 8 – Refinements – Colour adjustments and selective enhancements

One of the limitations of using a modern DSLR camera is that the sensor can be exposed to dust particles when the lens is changed. For cameras which have a fixed lens, like compact cameras, this is less likely to be a problem.

Figure: Photo of house with dust spots added to simulate the effect

Figure: Close-up of dust spots

As can be seen in the above Sensor Dust Spot simulation, as my camera is currently free of dust spots, the dust spots are quite noticeable and usually show up in bright areas of a photo like the sky.

To retouch the dust spots, select the Editor mode within Zoner as shown above. You will then be presented with a selection of editing tools. The Clone tool should be used to retouch dust spots like these. It can be accessed by first clicking on Retouching Tools icon and then clicking on Clone Stamp tool.

The diameter of the Clone tool has been set to 20 which is sufficiently small to clone from nearby area before applying to dust spot. To use the Clone Stamp, press CTRL key and click on area to be cloned, and then release CTRL key, move editing circle over dust spot, and then press Left Mouse button about 3 times

Note: The editor in Zoner Photo Studio might not be as advanced as Photoshop, but it is very capable of handling the editing required for everyday purposes.

Step 10 - Output Sharpening

The apparent sharpness of a photo depends a great deal on how much contrast there is along edges and lines. If a photo looks soft, it can often be improved by sharpening, a process (technically called unsharp masking) that adds contrast along lines and edges. Many photographers sharpen almost every photo except for photos such as fog scenes that are deliberately soft.

Note: If they are misused, sharpening and noise reduction can actually cause problems with your photos. However, if they are used with care, they are a great way to add polish to your photos.

Read more at…
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/photo-sharpening.htm

Photo Editing Demo – Bedroom

Updated: 18th November 2018

This demo covers the necessary steps to enhance a photo using the 10 Step Post Processing Workflow as outlined by www.cambridgeincolour.com.  You may not need to follow this procedure with all of your photos, but whenever you want to get that special photo looking just right, these steps can make all the difference.

Evaluating Photo

Before you carry out any editing, you have to first of all evaluate the photo to decide which steps you might need to apply.  The display on the camera is so small, captured photos are hard to evaluate properly.  So what do you look for when deciding if one of your photos can be improved?

The main areas to look at are :-

  1. The Tonal Range - range of tones in a photo between pure white and pure black.
  2. Colours - hue, saturation, and brightness can be adjusted.
  3. Flaws in Photo – Small imperfections can be retouched using Photo Editing Program.
  4. Sharpness of Photo – most photos can benefit from sharpening.
  5. Noise – can appear in low light conditions when using high ISO setting.

After evaluating a photo, you should then decide which steps of the Post Processing Workflow should be carried out as shown below.

10 Step Post Processing Workflow Photo of Bedroom
  1. White Balance - temperature and tint adjustment sliders
  1. Exposure - exposure compensation, highlight/shadow recovery
  1. Noise Reduction - during RAW development or using external software
  1. Lens Corrections - distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations
  1. Detail - capture sharpening and local contrast enhancement
  1. Contrast - black point, levels and curves tools
  1. Framing - straighten and crop
  1. Refinements - colour adjustments and selective enhancements
  1. Resizing - enlarge for a print or downsize for the web or email
  1. Output Sharpening - customized for your subject matter and print/screen size

Read more at...
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-photo-editing-workflow.htm

Step 1 - Adjusting White Balance

Figure: Photo of bedroom lit by both incandescent lamp and daylight coming from small window to right of camera.

As you may notice in the above photo, the camera has not properly captured the correct white balance. This is because it was set to auto white balance mode, where on this occasion it didn’t get it right.

Note: Paradoxically, cameras typically make the biggest white balance mistakes with scenes that are the most dramatically lit (and often could have benefited the most). Pay extra attention to white balance when shooting sunsets, indoor lighting and low-light photos, etc.

Within Zoner Photo Studio, it is possible to set the White Balance to ‘Incandescent’ which is a good first editing step as the bedroom is partially lit by the lamp.


Figure: Photo of bedroom after the white balance preset was changed to ‘incandescent’

Changing the White Balance preset is a slight improvement but the photo has also got a magenta tint. This can be removed by sliding the ‘Tint’ control to the left to add some green to cancel it out.

Figure: Photo of bedroom after Tint control set to –40

Notice now how the colours in the photo look more accurate.

In the above photo, it was fairly straightforward to adjust both the Temperature and Tint slider. With photos where its not so clear cut, it is usually easier to use the eyedropper tool near the white balance sliders.

To use it, all you do is click the eyedropper on a neutral colour and Zoner will automatically set the white balance for you. It is really easy. Here are the specific steps for using this powerful tool:

  1. Click on the eyedropper.
  2. Move to a neutral colour within your picture. I find that white works best, but gray and black work as well.
  3. Click on the neutral colour.
  4. If you don’t like how it looks, just find a different spot and click again.

When you click on a neutral colour, notice how the Temp and Tint sliders move as you use the eyedropper. You will find that much of the time Zoner (or other photo editing program like Lightroom) does a really good job of setting the white balance with this simple click.

Read more about using eyedropper tool at...
https://www.colesclassroom.com/understanding-white-balance/

Adjust Photo of bedroom with eyedropper


Figure: Photo of bedroom after the white balance has been set using the ‘eyedropper’ tool (highlighted in green).

When I used the ‘eyedropper’ tool on above photo, I clicked on the white pelmet but there are also other neutral areas of photo which could also be used, like pillow or duvet. It may also be necessary to go on to make finer adjustments using the Temperature and Tint sliders to get a more accurate White Balance result.

Step 3 - Noise Reduction

‘Photo noise’ is the digital equivalent of film grain for traditional cameras. For digital photos, this noise appears as random speckles on an otherwise smooth surface and can significantly degrade photo quality.

Although noise often detracts from a photo, it is sometimes desirable since it can add an old-fashioned, grainy look which is reminiscent of early film. Some noise can also increase the apparent sharpness of a photo. Noise increases with the sensitivity setting in the camera, length of the exposure, temperature and even varies amongst different camera models due to different sensor sizes.

Figure: Close-up of bedroom photo – noise reduction has been applied on the right

As this photo was taken at a high ISO i.e 400 and in low light conditions, some noise is visible on the photo as can be seen on the left. Within Zoner, I set the Noise Reduction - Brightness setting to 80% and as you can see on the right, the noise level is more acceptable without loss of detail.

Step 7 – Framing - straighten and crop

Cropping is one of the easiest adjustments you can do to a photo, while also having the biggest impact on improving the photo. In the photo below, you can see that the crop tool, from the right-hand tool palate, has been used to select the area of the photo to be cropped.

Figure: Photo of bedroom with area to be cropped already selected

Once you are satisfied that the photo will be improved if it is cropped as selected, press the Enter key, and the crop will be applied.

Figure: Photo of bedroom after it has been cropped

Note: When using the crop tool in Zoner Photo Studio, the aspect ratio of the original photo is maintained. In other programs, like The Gimp, it is necessary to specify the aspect ratio in tool options beforehand.

Step 10 - Output Sharpening

The apparent sharpness of a photo depends a great deal on how much contrast there is along edges and lines. If a photo looks soft, it can often be improved by sharpening, a process (technically called unsharp masking) that adds contrast along lines and edges. Many photographers sharpen almost every photo except for photos such as fog scenes that are deliberately soft.

Note: If they are misused, sharpening and noise reduction can actually cause problems with your photos. However, if they are used with care, they are a great way to add polish to your photos.

Read more at…
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/photo-sharpening.htm

Manage your Tasks with Toodledo

In this section we will introduce a well featured To-Do List called Toodledo which is recommended by personal productivity website www.mindtools.com in an article on how to use to-do lists.

Task management is important for the simple reason that personal success seems to be the result of knowing what you want to do then directing action towards it. So, without a clear list of prioritised tasks, there can be no directed action.

Actively managed tasks lists also create a certain degree of accountability in ourselves. It very clearly indicates where we have fallen short of in terms of directed action, and is a good (if somewhat pressure-free) wakeup call to get more done.

Toodledo Features covered in this Lesson

Add a single task using Quick Add or by clicking on Add Task button.

Add multiple tasks from a list.

Sorting Tasks into best order to identify tasks to be done next.

e.g Sort by Importance/Folder or Sort by Folder/Due Date

Toodledo - Tasks in Importance Order.jpg

Toodledo - Tasks in Folder Order.jpg

Rollover tasks

These are tasks which are carried over from yesterday to today. There are three methods for dealing with these.

  1. Leave the task as overdue as this is important information to know or remove due date as a due date is only for tasks that are absolutely due on a particular day. If the task does not have a hard due-date then it might be better to omit it and give it high priority so you can make time to complete it.
  2. Use optional repeating as an optional task will automatically get moved to the next occurrence if the due-date passes.
  3. Use the Multi-Edit feature to quickly change the due date on a group of overdue tasks.
  4. View Recently Completed Tasks :-

Toodledo - Recently Completed.jpg

From the Main View, Click on Recently Completed

Delete a Task

Go to Recently Completed tab and click on trash icon or

Click the action icon  to cause popup menu below to appear and click the ‘Delete Task’ link.

When task deleted then check ‘Recently Delete Tasks’ in account settings to see tasks that have been deleted.

Using Toodledo with GTD Productivity Method

Click on this link - http://www.toodledo.com/info/gtd.php

Activity - Input, Organise and Prioritise Sample Tasks List

In this Activity, we will Input, Organise and Prioritise a set of sample tasks together as a class so that we will all be seeing the same result as we progress.

Open up the document Toodledo Sample Tasks in PC Tutor Activity Files

Select all tasks and copy using edit/copy option or ctrl + c

Add tasks to Toodledo using the Add Multiple Tasks option as shown below…

Toodledo - Add Multiple Tasks.JPG

Save the tasks above and the screen below will be displayed with all task listed in their basic form.

Toodledo - Tasks added multiply.JPG

  1. Add the following Folders by selecting the Organise/Folders option from main menu :-
  • Admin
  • Finance
  • Shopping
  • Study
  • Holidays
  • Home
  • Leisure
  • Misc
  • Work

Categorise all the tasks into the most appropriate folder and then Sort by Folder
Toodledo - Folder Order for Activity 2.jpg

Now that the tasks have been added to Folders, the next step is to set the Due Date, Repeat and Priority where necessary.

So for task Check Tax on PAYE Online, Set Due Date to January 1st, Repeat Yearly and High Priority

Review all other tasks and decide which ones should have a Due Date, Repeat and Priority set.

--- End of Activity ---

Activity - Import Tasks List.

In this activity we will import a Task List which could have come from some other task manager which exports in the iCal format.

In the shared folder Calendar Tasks and Notes - download the file toodledo sample tasks.ics by right clicking on the file name and selecting the download option.

In Toodledo, select option Tools/Import/Export/Backup as shown below.

Toodledo - select Import Option.jpg

You will be presented with the following screen…click on More Details in the highlighted iCal Import / Export tool

Toodledo - Import Option Highlighted.jpg

Select toodledo sample tasks file to be imported…

Toodledo - Browse for Import File.jpg

You will be presented with the following screen (or similar).

Toodledo - Continue with Import.jpg

Click on  and tasks will be imported and can then be Categorised and Prioritised as required.

--- End of Activity ---

Managing Your Schedule with Google Calendar

Many people have a difficult time with time management skills, but there are quick and easy ways that you can help yourself to schedule and manage your time in a more effective manner. One great idea that works well for many people is entering a weekly schedule of events into a Calendar.

One of the most important tools in managing your day to day schedule is to use an online Calendar. Google Calendar is a very popular one as you can access it from any web enabled device and you can also sync your appointments with a tablet or smartphone.

What should you put on your calendar?

The following items are ideal for including on a calendar so that a person has greater control over their everyday lives :-

  • Appointments (dentist, classes, dinner with friends, meetings, etc).
  • Deadlines (handing in report, filing taxes, etc).
  • Events (pay day, birthdays, holidays etc).
  • Time sensitive errands (buying something in a sale before closing time).
  • Focus time like Study of a Course (when no one can disturb you).

Entering items above on your calendar will help to keep you more organized as well as hold you accountable for your time. Only definite items which you want to schedule for the days and weeks ahead should be added to your calendar. So you will then have a sense of commitment to carry them out at the specified time.

Tasks with a due date are probably better kept in Task Management Software like Toodledo or Taskcoach rather than on a calendar where they can be marked as completed as they are worked on. So for a particular project like – ‘Redecorate the Living Room’, it can be entered in calendar as a block of time but the individual tasks that need to be done are better listed in a Task Management Program like Taskcoach.

Google Calendar Main Features

The following features have been selected because they are typical features that most new users would be interested in using. They have been selected from the Google Calendar Help section.

  1. Calendar views – Day, Week, Month, 4 Days and Agenda
  2. Create and Edit events.a) One-off Events, b) Repeat events, c) Invite guests to event and check for respondents.
  3. Change default notifications and register mobile phone for SMS messages

To access Calendar Settings -select Settings from Menu

Google Calendar - Menu .jpg

 

On Calendar Settings Screen...

Google Calendar - Calendars.jpg

To access default notifications, select Calendars tab and then select Reminders and notifications for Calendar you wish to change

Note: To register your mobile for SMS Reminders, click on the Mobile Setup tab beside Calendars tab. There is a charge for this service.

Google Calendar - R&N.jpg

The above settings are an example of typical reminder settings that you might like to use. Of course you can set these to whatever you like as long as you feel you are been notified in time to attend the event in question.

Subscribe to Calendar of special interest – Irish Holidays, sporting events etc

To subscribe to a Calendar, go to Calendar Settings Screen as shown for 2d above and select the Browse Interesting Calendars link and the following screen will be displayed :-

Google Calendar - Interesting Calendars.JPG

Subscribe to Irish Holidays and it will be added to your list of available Calendars

Share a Calendar

Google Calendar - Sharing Menu Option.JPG

To access the Calendar Sharing Screen, select the drop-down menu beside calendar and then select Share this Calendar option

You will be then be presented with the following screen :-

Google Calendar - Sharing this Calendar Screen.JPG

To Share a Calendar, enter the email address of Person you wish to share with and then select Permission Settings

Permissions Settings should be set depending how well you know the person you are sharing your Calendar with. So if you are sharing with a work colleague you may set it to ‘See only free/busy’ while if they are a friend you may set it to ‘See all event details’

Share your Calendar with people who don’t use Google Calendar

Google Calendar - Calendar Settings Menu Option.JPG

Select Calendar Settings from drop-down menu beside Calendar you wish to share.

Google Calendar - Calendar Details.JPG

To get the Calendar Address which you will share, click on HTML

The address is then displayed which you can copy and paste into a regular email to share with friend or work colleague.

Google Calendar - Calendar Address.jpg

Understanding default Privacy settings

Your calendar information stays private unless you adjust your calendar-sharing settings. If you choose to share, you decide who to share with, and which details they can see. Google Calendar enables you to make all or part of your calendars (1) private and inaccessible by other users, (2) accessible only by certain people of your choosing, or (3) accessible by the general public and included in Google search results.

Activities to explore Google Calendar

Create an Event on Work Calendar and Invite Colleague

  1. Create a Work Calendar by selecting the drop down menu to the right of My Calendars on the main Google Calendar screen. While creating calendar, you can also Share with specific people at the same time.

Google Calendar - Create New Calendar.JPG

Enter the Calendar Name.

Additionally enter the eMail addresses of your work colleagues.

Finally click on Create Calendar button.

Tip: The Work Calendar could be used to record work related events like meetings, courses and even work social events so that they will be kept separate from your personal calendar.

  1. Create an Event in your Google Work Calendar like ‘End of Project Party’ and invite Colleague.

Click on the date/time in the Calendar for the date of the event and the following dialogue box will be displayed.

Click on Edit Event and the following screen will be displayed.

Google Calendar - Edit Event.JPG

Enter Where the Event is being held.

Add Colleague as a Guest.

Ask Colleague to RSVP to Event and then check your calendar to see who has replied.

When your Colleague clicks on the Shared Event in their calendar, the edit event screen is displayed with the options to specify if they are attending event.

Meanwhile on your own Calendar, you can check who has responded by clicking on the Event to see Replies.

Google Calendar - Edit Event after RSVP.jpg

--- End of Activity ---

 

Related Tutorials

Task Management Basics

To-do lists are essential to good time-management practice. They provide a guideline for what items are to be completed within a given amount of time. You may want to create a list weekly or daily. Either way, to-do lists help you remember what you need to do.

Completing a list each day can help you see how much you have got done. Place a mark next to high-priority items so you know at a glance what you should devote your time to first.

Prioritise Tasks

In order to prioritise tasks, you have to clearly set a “priority categories” for each one. For example, how do you categorise something you have to do today to make it stand out from something that must be done by next week? The first step is to come up with categories to help you decide what tasks should be done first. Your categories might look something like this:

  1. Absolutely Urgent: These must be done right away or by a deadline and are important to your job, your family, or to you personally.
  2. Urgent: These are important to you, your family, or your job, but don’t have a deadline.
  3. Chores: These are things you don’t necessarily want to do but have to do anyway.
  4. Maybe: These are things you would like to do, but they aren’t especially important and it doesn’t matter if you do them today, tomorrow, or next week.
  5. Dreams, Wishes, and Ideas: These are things you might like to do but have no immediate importance in your life.

Using categories such as these may be confusing at first, but, as you continue to work with them, you will start automatically assigning categories as soon as you receive a task. Once you do that, you can figure out when something should be done and whether you need to give immediate attention to it or whether it can wait.

Just as important as categorising your tasks, is finding a way for you to manage the list. Task lists are ever changing and evolving. New tasks are added, some tasks are completed and others are no longer important for now.

Time management is all about focus and consistency. Put these basic skills into practice every day and you will see that managing your time will get easier and easier.

Financial Comparison and Government Websites – Ireland

Updated: 25th May 2018

Comparison Websites

If you type “price comparison website” into any search engine and you will be presented with scores of sites promising to save you money on everything from your broadband and phone to travel insurance. While many of the sites are automated and just trawl other websites to collate pricing information in real time for people too busy to do the research themselves, there are also a growing number of personalised services which use real interaction to find people better value for money.

The first area where money can be saved is utility bills. A couple of years back, hundreds of thousands of Irish people cleverly made the Big Switch and moved from ESB to Bord Gáis Energy (both previously Irish state owned), which was promising to undercut the one-time monopoly by as much as 20 per cent. People made the change and then thought the job was done and they would be able to avail of the savings for ever, but after the year-one discounts were gone, the providers quickly switch consumers back to the higher rate – so what people need to do is shop around all the time.

Activities – Comparison Websites

Compare broadband offers in your local area

Compare broadband offers in your local area by using accredited websites below, and decide on which option offers lowest price and unlimited download capacity.

www.bonkers.ie

www.switcher.ie

Compare Mortgages to Find a Lower Interest Rate

Compare mortgages at the CCPC website below and decide if you are a first time buyer or if you are a likely mortgage switcher.

www.ccpc.ie/consumers/financial-comparisons/mortgage-comparisons/

Government Services - Ireland

MyGovID

www.mygovid.ie gives Irish citizens a secure “single sign on” to their public services. It is built on the Public Services Card, linking a ‘real word’ identity to an online identity. It can already be used to access Revenue’s ‘myAccount’ services and ‘MyWelfare.ie’ online services from the Department of Social Protection.

MyGovId provides users with a safe secure online identity for Irish government services. A MyGovId account will act as a secure “single sign on” identity for multiple online government services across a variety of government and public sector organisations.

Users can already access a range of social welfare services and Revenue’s “MyAccount” service using a MyGovID account. Eventually, all government online services will migrate to the secure MyGovID platform.

See more in press release from 23rd March 2017:

www.per.gov.ie/ga/government-launches-mygovid-a-safe-secure-online-identity-for-government-services-in-ireland/

Besides the www.mygovid.ie website mentioned above, here is a list of the main Irish government websites:

Irish Government Information Portal

www.gov.ie/en

myAccount enables you to access PAYE services (including Jobs and Pensions), Local Property Tax, Home Renovation Incentive and many more services using a single login and password. You can also update your personal details, review your tax affairs, make payments and apply for certain tax reliefs and incentives.

www.ros.ie/myaccount-web/home.html

MyWelfare website can be used for a variety of services including application services, jobseeker's services, request payment statements and booking appointments for allocation of Personal Public Service Numbers and Public Services Cards.

www.mywelfare.ie

MABS is the Irish State’s money advice service, guiding people through dealing with problem debt for more than twenty years.

www.mabs.ie

And finally, here is a website that needs no introduction…

www.revenue.ie

Activities – Government Services

Calculate Income Tax Payable

Calculate your income tax payable by referring to revenue website to find out tax credits and standard rate cut-off point, and then checking it corresponds with amount deducted each week/month from your wages/salary.

See the following websites for guidance…
www.citizensinformation.ie/en/reference/case_studies/case_study_calculating_your_income_tax_case_studies.html
www.revenue.ie/en/tax/index.html

 

Paying Bills Online – Ireland

Updated: 25th May 2018

Online bill pay saves you time and eliminates the hassle of writing out a cheque, addressing an envelope, mailing the payment and filing the papers. With electronic statements and billing, all you have to do is set up your account online and you are on your way to easy and convenient management of your account.

Online statements allow you to easily review past bills online in one centralised location. Furthermore, paying your bill online means there is no chance your payment will become lost in the mail and since most payments are posted to your Utility provider within 3 days, you reduce the chance of late fees or penalties.

Online Banking

The first step to avail of online banking is to register with your bank either online or by giving them a phone call. The registration process is quite straightforward when you have an existing current account. Once registered, you will typically be given a Registration number and Personal Access Code (PAC) which you can use to access Online Banking.

Benefits of Online Banking include:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Online account & credit card statements available
  • Bank securely 365 days a year
  • Customer Service Advisers are available for non-routine transactions

Typical features available:

  • Check your account transactions & balances
  • View your eStatements and eFee Advices
  • Make payments to Utility Services and other Payees
  • Create Standing Orders and Manage Direct Debits
  • Transfer money between accounts domestically and internationally
  • Order a cheque book

Utility Providers Website

The main Household Utility Providers in Dublin include Electric Ireland for electricity and gas, Bord Gais & Flogas for gas, Vodafone, Eir, Sky & Virgin Media for Internet, TV and Phone and Panda & Greenstar for waste disposal. All of these Utility Providers have their own website where a customer will be given access to an online account with the following benefits & services:

Benefits of Paying on Utility Providers website include:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Online bills available for printing (e.g for Proof of Address to open Bank a/c)
  • Pay securely 365 days a year
  • Credit Card accepted (which is not the case with mybills.ie)

Typical features available:

  • View your current service provider account
  • View your bills from the past 12-18 months
  • Edit your contact & bank details
  • Submit meter readings (where relevant e.g Electric Ireland, Bord Gais etc)
  • Make debit/credit card payments or set-up direct debit online

mybills.ie

Mybills.ie is a website provided by An Post, that allows you pay over 100 billers including major utility providers, charities and online catalogues using your debit card or bank account. Credit cards are not currently accepted, presumably to discourage people from borrowing to pay regular bills – this could be a serious drawback for people who always pay their credit card bills in full.

Benefits of Paying Bills on Mybills.ie include:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Pay securely 365 days a year
  • Run by reputable state company i.e An Post
  • Manage all your bills on a single website

Actual features available:

  • Pay multiple bills in one step while showing a running total on screen
  • Bill Payment History by single or group of bills
  • Scheduled Payments so you can pay regular bills when income is available in your account
  • Payment Flexibility to pay a portion of a bill with a view to paying the remaining balance at a later stage.

See more at :-

http://www.anpost.ie/AnPost/mybills.htm

 

Dublin City Council Payments

See the website below :-

http://www.dublincity.ie/main-menu-services-housing-apply-mortgage/pay-your-bills

Safe Online Payments

Before you type your card details into a website, check that the site is secure. Look out for a small padlock symbol in the address bar (or elsewhere in your browser window) and a web address beginning with https:// (the s stands for 'secure').

You also need to check that the website is trustworthy. Here are a few suggestions for ways in which you can reduce the risk of using a fraudulent site:

  • Be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true. This could indicate that a site might be selling illegal or pirated items.
  • If you're not familiar with the website, you could ask family members, friends or colleagues for their opinion. They might be able to offer you alternative recommendations.
  • You could also do an internet search to see if the site you are investigating is mentioned favourably on sites you already trust.

For more information about buying online, check out these websites…

https://www.ccpc.ie/consumers/shopping/buying-online/

https://www.eccireland.ie/faqs/shopping-online/

Manage Your Money

Updated: 25th May 2018

Many people have experienced financial difficulty due to recession, reduction in working hours or job loss, or need for expensive medical procedure. You may have high outgoings like college fees and books, car maintenance or upgrade, or high rent/mortgage fees.

There are also other factors that can contribute to financial difficulty such as a relationship breakdown, increased expenditure or poor budgeting with simply not enough money to go around.

 

Step 1 – Complete a Financial Health Check

A financial health check will give you a clear picture of your finances and helps you identify where you need to make changes. You should complete this step at least once a year, particularly if your income changes or you experience a big life event. See Consumerhelp website link below for steps to carry out financial health check.

Step 2a – Identify Your Goals

Whether it is saving for a holiday next year, paying off your credit card debt or starting an emergency fund, everybody has different goals. When you have a goal, you will find it easier to stick to a budget. Once you identify your goal, you need to work out how much it will cost and how you will put money aside to achieve it.

Step 2b – Prioritise Goals

Once you have a list of Goals, you should then list them in order of priority so that you can attend to most important ones first. For instance, would you rather pay off your mortgage ten years early or take a holiday. Is being able to retire early more important than putting your children through college.

Step 3 – Make a Budget

A budget is simply a plan showing how much you expect to receive and how you plan to spend it. It will show you how much money is coming into your household, your main outgoings and how much you can afford to offer to those you owe money to - your Creditors like Credit Card Bills, Loans Outstanding etc. For Goals set in 2a above, you may need to set realistic targets and work towards them in easy stages. You should allocate a certain amount each month towards your Goal so that you can gradually save the required amount in time for the event e.g Education Fees need to be available in time for your eldest child starting College.

See more at :-

https://www.ccpc.ie/consumers/money/budgeting/managing-your-money/

Activities – Managing Your Money

Produce Excel Cash Flow chart using Budget spreadsheet as Input

Introduction

This tutorial takes you through all the steps to produce an Excel Cash Flow Chart for a typical 6 month budget period. The Excel Cash Flow Chart will give you an idea how well your budget will balance over a given budget period – it shows at a glance if your balance will be likely to grow, breakeven or go into a deficit.

Step 1 – Open Sample Budget Cashflow Spreadsheet

There is a sample Budget Cashflow Spreadsheet available in the following shared folder for you to use, it is called - GNUCashflowanalysis - PC Tutor - Qtr 3 2017.xlsx

PC Tutor Activity Files

Step 2 - Set-up personal budget for 3-6 month period

The first step in creating a budget is to decide what it is you want to track and analyse. This decision will affect which sections you include in the sample Budget Cashflow Spreadsheet.  For example, if you want to track all your cash flow, you may create a cash flow budget by entering amounts for asset, liability, income and expense categories.

Before creating a budget, you must also decide what period of time you want to plan for. The most common budget periods are monthly and annual. If you want your budget to plan for changes in financial patterns over time, then you should include multiple budget periods in your budget. For example, if you want to plan on having higher utility expenses in the winter than in the summer, then you might break your annual budget into 4 quarters or even 12 months, and budget a higher value for the winter periods than for the summer periods.

Figure: Sample Budget Cashflow Spreadsheet showing 6 month budget from July 2017

Step 3 – Copy balance from Budget Worksheet and Paste into Cash Flow Analysis Worksheet

Figure: Copy Monthly Budget Balance from July 2017 to Dec 2017 from Budget Worksheet

Figure: Pasting of link for Monthly Budget Balance into Cash Flow Analysis worksheet

Step 4 - Interpret results.

Figure: Cash Flow Analysis Calculations

On the screen above, you can see the Cashflow calculations in the Closing Balance row. It is basically a cumulative sum of each Monthly Budget Balance within budget period.

Figure: Cash Flow Analysis Chart

Finally, the above Cash Flow Analysis chart shows how the budget balance grows during the budget period.