Choosing anti-virus/anti-spyware Software

Updated: 29th June 2018

It is important when choosing anti-virus/anti-spyware software to be vigilant in selecting a reputable company, as there are many fake anti-virus/anti-spyware which claim to clear viruses but are actually a threat in themselves.

Expensive and popular does not always mean the best. For example, two of the most popular – Norton and McAfee have in the past been outperformed by free alternatives like AVG and Avast.

In most cases, these so-called ‘free’ products are no-frills versions of commercial products which the manufacturer hopes you will upgrade to in the future. The protection factor is likely to be equivalent to the paid-for version, but there may be limited or no technical support and some reduced functionality, for example in scheduling full scans.

Standalone or Security Suite anti-virus software.

Most anti-virus/anti-spyware software companies sell both a Standalone Program that only scans for viruses, as well as selling full security packages that provide other protection including firewall, spam filtering, anti-spyware and parental controls.

A Security Suite should include everything you need to protect your PC against online threats, is easy to use as everything is controlled from one screen, and is cheaper than buying each component separately.

How to choose an anti-virus software

Once you have assessed your needs and decided whether you want a stand-alone product or a security suite, you can begin the process of choosing an antivirus software. Follow these steps before buying your software:

  • A good antivirus software should offer real-time protection (meaning it's always on) and auto-update feature to guard against new viruses
  • Investigate how easy a product is to set up and use. Download a free trial version of the software you are interested in, and try it out. Do not install more than one trial version at a time because they may interfere with each other. Make sure also that it doesn’t slow down your PC significantly when the Real-time protection and Web Shield are switched on.
  • Make sure the product you are considering has multiple options for Technical Support, including email and a help line.

See more at:
https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-your-computer/viruses-and-spyware/
http://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafety/3/print

‘Surf’ Internet Safely

Updated: 29th June 2018

Online Security is a branch of computer security specifically related to Internet which includes browser security but also network security, while operating system security is included at a more general level.

Browser security is where internet browsers are protected from malware like spyware and phishing which can compromise user security while browsing the internet.

The Risks of using internet

The risks of visiting malicious, criminal or inappropriate websites include:

  • Viruses and spyware (collectively known as malware).
  • Phishing, designed to obtain your personal and/or financial information and possibly steal your identity.
  • Fraud, from fake shopping, banking, charity, dating, social networking, gaming, gambling and other websites.
  • Copyright infringement – copying or downloading copyright protected software, videos, music, photos or documents.
  • Exposure to unexpected inappropriate content.
  • When you use the internet, your internet service provider, search engine, law enforcement agencies and possibly (if browsing at work) your employer, will still be able to see which sites you have visited or keywords you have searched for.

Precautions to Take while using internet

Here are the main precautions to take before accessing Internet…

  • Always ensure that you are running the latest version of your chosen browser that your operating system will support. Also, be sure to download and install the latest updates.
  • Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online. – see section Choosing anti-virus/anti-spyware Software

To prevent unauthorised access to your personal details or to avoid fraudulent websites…

  • Always remember to log out of a secure website when you have completed your transaction, and before you close the browser. Closing the browser does not necessarily log you out.
  • Check for presence of an address, phone number and/or email contact – often indications that the website is genuine. If in doubt, send an email or call to establish authenticity.
  • Check that the website’s address seems to be genuine by looking for subtle misspellings, extra words, characters or numbers or a completely different name from that you would expect the business to have.
  • If there is NO padlock in the browser window or ‘https://’ at the beginning of the web address to signify that it is using a secure link, do not enter personal information on the site.
  • Websites which request more personal information than you would normally expect to give, such as user name, password or other security details IN FULL, are probably malicious.
  • Avoid ‘pharming’ by checking the address in your browser's address bar after you arrive at a website to make sure it matches the address you typed. This will prevent you ending up at a fake site even though you entered the address for the authentic one. This can occur due to browser malware which redirects a user to a fraudulent website.
  • Always get professional advice before making investment decisions. Sites that hype investments for fast or high return – whether in shares or alleged rarities like old wine, whisky or property – are often fraudulent.

Above Risks and Precautions taken from:

https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-your-computer/safe-internet-use/

Cookies

Cookies are stored on your computer, smartphone or tablet, by websites to store information about your browsing habits during sessions. Most of the time they are innocuous – where they keep track of your username and usage preferences - (username is stored so that you don't have to log into a website every time you visit it). However, some are used to track sites you visit so that they can target advertising at you, or by criminals to build a profile of your interests and activities with a view to fraud.

As these cookies usually store relevant information to provide a seamless user experience on a website, some websites will not work if you block cookies completely. So, rather than setting your browser to block them, an alternative solution is to use an add-on like Privacy Badger (available for Chrome or Firefox) or Stealth Mode (available for Chrome), to block tracking cookies. See section Privacy and security Add-ons for more details.

Reviewing Your Google account

PC Tutor Note: I recorded the steps below when I reviewed my own Google Account Privacy Settings (June 2018). As I am an experienced computer user, I can hopefully demonstrate good practice when making these changes.

Getting Started

To get started with reviewing your Google Account, visit My Account, which takes you to a dashboard with sections for Sign-in & Security, Personal info & Privacy, and Account Preferences.

Your personal info

The first section to check is ‘Your personal info’ where you can manage this basic information – your name, email and phone number – to help others find you on Google products like Hangouts, Gmail and Maps, and make it easier for others to get in touch. The About me section is particularly important as it controls what people see about you across the Google products.

The next step is to perform a Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup.

Perform a Security Checkup

When you click Security Checkup, a pop-up will show the following info:

  • Your devices
  • Third-party access
  • Recent security activity
  • 2-Step Verification (whether it's on or not).

Google Security Checkup

Any items marked with a yellow warning exclamation circle should get a once over. For example, if you see devices you no longer use listed under ‘Your Devices’, remove them. Third-party access will list apps and services that have access to your Google data - some of which could be problematic.

See this article for more details…
https://www.pcmag.com/article/360238/how-to-manage-your-google-privacy-settings

Performing a Privacy Check-up

A Privacy Check-up lets you review important settings that determine what data is stored by Google and how they use data they hold.

Google Activity Control: Web & App Activity

If you turn this setting on, Google will save your searches and other Google activity to your Google Account. You can also choose to save which apps you use, your Chrome history and which sites you visit on the web.

Privacy Set-up > Web & App Activity > Activity Controls

What is effect of Pausing Web & App Activity?

  • Pausing Web & App Activity may limit or disable more personalised experiences across Google services.
  • Pausing this setting doesn't delete any of your past data. You can see or delete your data and more at myactivity.google.com.

Click on above link to take you to My Activity page and select Delete activity by as shown in screenshot below…

PC Tutor Note: As the data stored can be somewhat personal e.g searching for a suspected health condition, I suggest that that this setting is turned off and all past activity deleted. Before you do, be aware that this setting also affects what adverts you see while browsing, as they are personalised using your Web activity – see section Make ads more relevant to you

For Delete by date value above, select All time

Google Activity Control: Location History

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you’ve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

Click on this link to see your own data: google.com/maps/timeline?

Here is a map of every place I have been to since starting using Google on my Android phone about two years ago. You can see the time of day that I was in each location and how long it took me to get to that location from my previous one.

Pausing Location History?

Turing off this setting may limit or disable personalised experiences across Google services. For example, you may not see recommendations based on places you've visited or helpful tips about your commute.

This setting does not affect other location services on your device, like Google Location Services and Find My Device.

Some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps.

Pausing this setting doesn't delete any of your past data. You can see or delete your data and more at maps.google.com/timeline

PC Tutor Note: Although this setting can allow location data to be stored about a persons’ daily travels, I suggest that that this setting is left ON, as it can be convenient when travelling to get location specific search results.

Google Activity Control: Device Information

The Device Information setting saves a copy of some information from your phone or tablet, including:

  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Apps
  • Music
  • Information about the device, like battery level

This information is private. You can only see it when you're signed in to your Google Account.

PC Tutor Note: As the data stored is key user information, I suggest that this setting is left ON

Google Activity Control: Voice and Audio

When you use voice commands (such as 'Ok Google') or touch the microphone icon, Google saves your voice and accompanying audio.

PC Tutor Note: This setting is of low importance, so it’s probably best to leave ON

Google Activity Control: Youtube Search History

This can help make future searches faster and improve recommendations in YouTube and other Google services.

PC Tutor Note: This setting is of low importance, so it’s probably best to leave ON

Google Activity Control: Youtube Watch History

This can help make your recently watched videos easier to find and improve recommendations in YouTube and other Google services.

PC Tutor Note: This setting is of low importance, so it’s probably best to leave ON

Manage what you share on YouTube

Choose who can see your YouTube videos, likes and subscriptions, and decide where you share them.

Manage your Google Photos settings

Choose whether you want to remove geolocation from your photos when you share them by link.

Help people connect with you

Let people with your phone number find and connect with you on Google services, such as video chats.

You can make it easy for people who have your phone number to get in touch with you across Google services. For example, friends can send you a message or photo without having your email address or other contact information.

If this setting is off, people might not be able to use your phone number to find your name, photo, or other information you've made visible.

Choose what Google+ profile information you share with others

tba

Make ads more relevant to you

You can change the types of ads you see from Google when you adjust your interests, age and gender or opt-out of ads based on your interests. Please note that you will still see ads after opting out – they’ll just be less relevant.

Remember, Google makes the majority of its money by showing you ads in search results and on Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps (plus elsewhere across the internet). You're not going to turn them off here—for that, you need an ad-blocker program like Adblock Plus—all you can do here is limit how much you are targeted.

PC Tutor Note: If you are NOT using an AD Blocker as mentioned above, it is probably best to leave this setting ON. Because, if you must see adverts while browsing, it is better that they are personalised to some extent. But even with an Ad Blocker in use, it will have to be disabled for some websites to work properly. The bottom line is that viewing ads is unavoidable when browsing the internet.

Internet Privacy Protection Levels

There are 5 levels of Internet Privacy and Security which should be set-up on your home computer to maximise your protection online:

  1. Set browser standard privacy features.
  2. Install most effective privacy and security add-ons to your browser.
  3. Configure your Anti-virus and check it includes a web and email shield.
  4. Make sure you have a Firewall active at all times.

If you use your laptop computer in public WIFI areas then…

  1. Install a VPN like CyberGhost

Browser Privacy Features

The most common internet browsers enable you to manage your privacy settings such as allowing and blocking selected websites, blocking pop ups and browsing in private. All popular browsers will allow you to do this in slightly different ways, so we recommend that you visit the security and privacy section of their websites, or the help area of the browsers themselves.

See the following link to maximise Firefox Browser privacy.
http://www.howtogeek.com/102032/how-to-optimize-mozilla-firefox-for-maximum-privacy/

See the following link to maximise Chrome Browser privacy.
http://www.howtogeek.com/100361/how-to-optimize-google-chrome-for-maximum-privacy/

Privacy and security Add-ons

Privacy Badger (Firefox & Chrome)

Privacy Badger blocks spying ads and invisible trackers. It ensures that companies can't track your browsing without your consent.

Disconnect (Firefox & Chrome)

Disconnect is an add-on that blocks web trackers from gathering your personal information. Because it blocks tracking elements from over 2,000 sources, Disconnect claims to speed up page loading by upwards of 27%.

HTTPS Everywhere (Firefox & Chrome)

HTTPS is a more secure web-browsing protocol that encrypts all of the web data that’s transmitted between the server and your browser. So even if someone intercepts your connection, they won’t be able to read the data. Even if a particular web page doesn’t support encryption, the add-on can get around it by rewriting the requests behind the scenes.

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-do-i-tell-if-my-connection-is-secure

Adguard AdBlocker (Firefox & Chrome)

This top-rated extension does a nice job of removing ads, even in YouTube and other videos, without hindering browser performance. The extension offers plenty of customizable settings, plus phishing and malware protection. The developer also claims that Adguard works even on sites that use anti-ad-blocking scripts.

Stealth Mode (Chrome)

From the developer of Adguard AdBlocker, Stealth Mode gets equally high marks from reviewers. The extension blocks third-party cookies and prevents online trackers from collecting information about you.

See more at:-
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/completely-secure-11-must-have-firefox-addons-security/

Check that Anti-virus Web and Mail Shield are Switched On

Within Avast Internet Security suite, make sure that the Web and Mail Shield option on the Active Protection screen are switched ON.

Switch on Firewall

Within Windows 10, there is a firewall built in which will provide standard protection against threats. For instructions on how to turn it on, check out the link below :-

http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000551.htm

While with Avast Internet Security, the Firewall can be turned on also on the Active Protection Screen as shown above.

Note: Only one firewall can be switched on at any time so it is preferable to use the firewall included within your anti-virus suite as it would offer a higher level of security.

Definition: Firewall - A firewall allows or blocks traffic into and out of a private network or the user's computer. Firewalls may also detect outbound traffic to guard against spyware, which could be sending your surfing habits to a website.

 

General Internet Browsing – Ireland

Updated: 29th June 2018

One of the main benefits of the internet is the availability of a vast amount of information from many sources that has accumulated over the past 20 years.  These sources include academic institutions, governments, political parties, medical institutions, support groups, private companies, interest groups, individuals and hobbyists etc

So, for someone doing research for an assignment for college or for a report in a company, they are able to access a significant amount of information which is freely available to them. Unlike in the past before the internet, when someone doing research would have had to go to a library and take notes from books.

Usually the first port of call for many people is to use a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing or Ask. These search engines are very well known and enable someone to easily find articles related to their chosen topic. It might also be worth noting, that these search engines are not comprehensive, so it might also be necessary to explore the search facility of each selected website. Additionally, it may be necessary to purchase online books or course to achieve a more in-depth understanding.

General websites to browse

Watch RTE TV Player www.rte.ie/player/ie
Browse a news website to get the latest news. www.independent.ie
Book a Coach/Rail Trip www.buseireann.ie
Play online Radio Stations from Ireland or abroad. www.liveradio.ie
Check Youtube for Interesting videos www.youtube.com
Use government websites to answer a query or download a form. www.gov.ie
Renew a book in library or check catalogue in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Area. Search internet for other areas. libraries.dlrcoco.ie
Check music or theatre events and book a ticket online. www.entertainment.ie
Check out know-how websites to find out how to convert CD to MP3. www.wikihow.com
Book an online course to develop a leisure area of interest. www.udemy.com

Evaluate Websites

The most important factor when evaluating web sites is your search requirements. What kind of information are you looking for? Are you using the web for entertainment, academic, career or medical information? Look carefully at the content, tone & style of the website.

Evaluate the page/content for:

1. Authority

    • Check for the source of the information: Who is the author?
    • What are his/her credentials? Does he/she provide an email or contact address/phone number?
    • Look at the domain name. Is it a preferred .ie, .com or .gov?

2. Objectivity

    • Make sure that the website is not just advertisement disguised as information.
    • Is the information unbiased and detailed with limited advertisement?

3. Currency

    • Check the date when the webpage was last updated.
    • Are there any dead links on the website?

4. Coverage

    • Is the information presented detailed, comprehensive and free?
    • Note any supplemental information, print or electronic, that is provided.

Types of Websites

When you're looking for information online, it's a good idea to be aware of what types of websites are available and what kind of information they contain. Depending on what you're looking for, you may find that certain types are more relevant to your search than others.

Type of Website Description Example
Commercial Site Most companies have websites to promote or give information about their product or services. Although these sites often have relevant information they are sometimes biased. If the site makes claim that seem to be too good to be true, see whether other sites support or refute the claims. www.did.ie

www.argos.ie

Organisations Organisations, like other companies, usually have websites to promote their operations and provide information to public. They are also likely to be biased in favour of their own products or services. www.rte.ie

www.vhi.ie

www.gov.ie

News Sites Many people these days pick up the main news stories online. It is also possible to subscribe to news sites to get premium content in an online version of the printed paper. www.independent.ie

www.thejournal.ie

www.bbc.com

Blog Blogs are usually written by individuals who have views to express or are experts in a particular value. There are many different types of blogs such as news, hobbies, humour, photography and more. Photography Blog - www.foxglovelane.com

Blog Award Winners 2014

Wiki A Wiki is a site which lets users add or modify content. The quality of articles in a Wiki can vary widely, but well- written ones always provide links to sources for further reading. www.wikipedia.com
Colleges and Universities These websites usually provide general information for current and prospective students about courses provided, facilities on campus and guidelines for students to follow. www.ucd.ie

www.dit.ie

www.dcu.ie

Databases Databases are collections of information often from a variety of sources, which have been compiled and presented in a structured and easy-to-navigate format. www.imdb.com
Portal Site Website that serves as a gateway or a main entry point on the internet to a specific topic-of-interest or an industry. www.irishhealth.ie
Forum A forum is a website where people can have discussions, known as a thread. The threads will usually stay on the site when the discussion is over and will come up in Google searches. www.boards.ie
Question and Answer Site Similar to a forum but there is more emphasis on answering an original question maybe put forward by someone who is new to a particular topic like say photography or maybe a more technical question by someone trying to find some specific help. www.answers.com

See more at:
http://www.gcflearnfree.org/searchbetter/all-about-online-search/full

Activities – General Internet browsing

Activity 2a - Check out entertainment events occurring next month

Search the Tickemaster or Eventbrite website and check out events that are occurring next month.

Activity 2b - Identify training needs and search for suitable courses

Identify training needs to progress with your career or hobby and search an online course provider like Udemy.com for suitable online courses to do.

Browser Selection and Searching the Internet

Updated: 29th June 2018

Picking a web browser isn’t like picking a computer operating system or smartphone. Unlike choosing MacOS, Windows, or Android where your choices are mutually exclusive, switching between browsers isn’t quite as perplexing.

Most people tend to choose a web browser and stick with it for years. It can be hard to break away from your favourite browser – especially when you've become used to its special features. But trying a different browser can greatly improve your experience on the web.

Whatever you are looking for in a browser, which might include: enhanced security, improved speed, or greater flexibility (through customizable options and plugins) -the right browser can have a huge effect on your home and working life.

Reasons to Select a particular Browser

When it comes to browsers comparison articles, you can’t always believe statistics, and not all surveys agree. But it’s probably fair to say that just because more people use a certain browser, that doesn't make it the ‘best'. It's just one measure, and there are others of course.

Even if a browser is better than its rivals due to better performance, security or extra features, they are all free so there’s no limit to how many you can use at the same time. So, while many would agree when we say that Google Chrome is the ‘best’ web browser, there’s nothing stopping you from using three or four different browsers for your own particular reasons.

If a specific extension or feature isn't available on your favourite browser, simply check and see if it is available in another browser. Similarly, if a website isn't displaying properly or working in one browser, try another. These are the most common reasons why we use more than one browser.

Most popular Internet browsers

Google Chrome is by far the most used browser, accounting for well over half of web traffic, followed by Safari (on Apple only) in a distant second place. IE (plus Edge) comes in third, with Firefox fourth. Opera is fifth with 5% of global web traffic.

Figure: W3Counter’s browser stats for August 2017

See more at:
https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-browser-internet-explorer-vs-chrome-vs-firefox-vs-safari-vs-edge/

Searching the Internet

Google is currently the most popular search engine, so popular that it has given rise to the verb ‘to google’. There are other search engines competing with Google as it can be very lucrative in terms of advertising revenue if they build their brand name.

From the www.netmarketshare.com, here are market share for Google and other popular search engines…

Desktop Search Engine Market Share – May 2015

Improving your Searches

In today's world, more and more things are done online. Even if you don't consider yourself a computer person, you now need computer skills in order to conduct research, shop online, keep in touch with family, and more.

The ability to search for information online is one of the most important information literacy skills you can possess. By improving your search skills, you can find what you're looking for more quickly, without having to sift through tons of irrelevant results.

As you gain experience with search engines, you'll be able to conduct better and better searches, which means it will become quicker and easier to find what you are looking for. Here are a few tips for improving your searches:

As you're typing your search terms, the search engine will try to guess what you're searching for and it will show a list of search suggestions. These can give you ideas for search terms that you may not have thought of.

  • Search phrases. Put quotes around a phrase so each word in the phrase isn't searched for separately. For example, if you put quotes around "diabetic biscuits", the search engine searches for that entire phrase in a webpage. But if you simply type diabetic biscuits, the search engine searches for each of the words individually where both words appear anywhere in article.
  • Exclude words. Use a hyphen (-) at the beginning of a word to exclude search results containing it. For example, macaroni -cheese. Note that there is a space before the hyphen, but not after it. In many search engines the word NOT (in all caps) is used, as in macaroni NOT cheese.
  • Use OR. You can use OR (all caps) to include either of two search words. For example, soup recipe tofu OR fish should return recipes for soup that contain tofu or fish (or both). You could also search for soup recipe tofu OR fish OR chicken OR beef.

See more at:
http://www.gcflearnfree.org/searchbetter/google-search-tips

Popular Add-ons for Chrome and Firefox

Browser add-ons (Firefox) or extensions (Chrome) can make your browser do just about anything. But which add-ons are the most useful? Here is a selection of the best ones for improving your browsing experience.

LastPass (Firefox & Chrome) - With LastPass you can sync your passwords to your phone and all of your other devices. LastPass also makes logging into sites faster on your desktop, so it’s the ideal password management system.

PC Tutor Tip: If you use Chrome Browser, there is a Password Manager included within Google Sync which is also worth checking out.

AddBlock Plus (Firefox & Chrome) - If you’re tired of ads getting in your way this add-on blocks ads on just about any page you come across. It’ll also protect your privacy across the web, block other sections you want to hide (like YouTube comments), and even block malware.

Gmail Offline (Chrome) This add-on caches Gmail messages locally, like a traditional email desktop app, allowing you to read and reply to messages without an active connection. Saved replies are then sent the next time a connection is available.

Research and Bookmarking Add-ons

If you’re using the web for research, you may need to compile your results as easily as possible and note a few sites for future reference. Here are tools for saving those relevant bits of information, and for compiling and managing your bookmarks.

Evernote Web Clipper (Firefox & Chrome) – Evernote is a fantastic note and article organiser and the best way to send internet articles to Evernote is by using the Web Clipper. A user simply clicks on the Evernote Web Clipper Icon on the toolbar and it shows a dropdown list of options which allows you to select which Evernote Folder you want to save the article in.

Bookmark Manager (Chrome) - This is the easiest way to organize your bookmarks and folders without skipping around multiple menus or bars. The Bookmarks Manager lets you order your bookmarks, make and organize folders, rename or edit bookmarks, and search all of your links.

FreshStart – Cross Browser Session Manager (Chrome) – This add-on saves your favourite tab sessions for easy loading and keeps note of what tabs you had open on another computer.

Search Plus (Chrome) This add-on helps to find the tabs you're looking for from all opened tabs regardless of window. You can also manage the found tabs easily and quickly.

Weava Highlighter (Chrome) This add-on makes it possible to highlight, annotate, and bookmark online research with multiple colours and organize the results into collections.

NoSquint Plus (Firefox & Chrome) - if the combination of the colour and font size on a website is wrong, reading a page might strain your eyes or it may turn out to be unreadable. NoSquint Plus can fix this by letting you set global or site-specific zoom levels, and change foreground and background colours.

Mercury Reader (Chrome) This tool does a great job of stripping a webpage down to basic text and images, so you can focus more easily on the content. To customise the page, tap on the extension’s settings button where you can adjust text size, typography and theme.

See more at:
https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/best-google-chrome-extensions

Activities - Internet Browser Selection

Activity 1a - Clip a Job Advert for your ideal job from recruitment website

  1. Download and install Evernote using the following link :-

https://evernote.com/download/

  1. Signup for a free Evernote account.
  2. Create the following Notebook structure within Evernote for storing clipped job adverts and other job-related items.

Job Search
01 – Jobs to Consider
05 – Jobs to Aim For in the Future
10 – Jobs to Apply For Now
15 – Job Apps Submitted
Job Advice
Job Cover Letters
Job News

  1. Start the Firefox or Chrome browser and install the Evernote Web Clipper Add-on.
  2. Open the website www.irishjobs.ie and search for a job which interests you.
  3. Clip a job that meets your requirements into the appropriate notebook above depending on how you would classify it.

--- End of Activity ---

Activity 1b - Set-up a Browsing Session for Buying a Laptop

  1. Install the Tab Manager add-on within the Firefox browser or Freshstart extension within Chrome browser.
  2. Set-up browsing tabs to the following computer websites…

Regular Stores
www.harveynorman.ie
www.pcworld.ie
www.did.ie

Online Stores
www.dell.ie
www.elara.ie
www.businessdirect.btireland.com

  1. Browse the above websites and select a computer with the following typical home user specifications:

Brand: Lenovo, HP or Dell
Screen: 15.6" Matte
Processor: Intel Core i3 or i5
OS: Windows 10 Home Edition
RAM: 8 GB
Hard Disk: 1-3 TB
Price: within your budget – expect to pay about €500-€700

  1. Clip the laptop product details for matching laptops into Evernote Notebook - ‘Laptop Buying Research - 2016’.
  2. Shortlist your selected Laptops into your top three.
  3. Make final decision on which one to buy.
  4. Save browsing session for future use.

--- End of Activity ---

Windows 10 Support

Updated: 1st July 2018

Task Manager

One of the main uses of the Task Manager is to force close a program which has stopped responding to the mouse or keyboard. The Task Manager in Windows 10 is the same as Windows 8 and it shows much more information than the version in Windows 7.

The most popular way of starting Task Manager is to type CTRL-ALT-DEL keys and selecting the Task Manager option. You can also run it by pressing CTRL-SHIFT-ESC keys.

A program/app which has stopped responding will be marked as “Not responding”. So, if you cannot use a program and it is in a “frozen” state, select it from the list of apps in Task Manager and then click “End Task” button. Windows will then attempt to force the program to close. Any information that you were working with in your program that was not saved will probably be lost, but if the Program is no longer responding then this may be the only course of action to take.

Also in the screen above, you can see more details about the CPU, Disk and Network usage of all running processes. A process might be an application (either one on you Taskbar or hidden in the Notification area) a sub-system or a service managed by Windows 10.

The other tabs available in Task Manager are less frequently used but here are links to tutorials for further information:

See more at:
http://www.windowscentral.com/task-manager-optimize-your-windows-10-experience

Power Options

A power plan is a collection of hardware and system settings that manages how your computer uses power. Power plans can help you save energy, maximize system performance, or achieve a balance between the two.

Note: Changes made to a power plan will affect all users that have chosen the same power plan as their default active power scheme.

Windows 10 provides the following default plans:

  • Balanced - Offers full performance when you need it and saves power when you don't. This is the best power plan for most people.
  • Power saver - Saves power by reducing PC performance and screen brightness. If you're using a laptop, this plan can help you get the most from a single battery charge.
  • High performance - Maximizes screen brightness and might increase PC performance. This plan uses a lot more energy, so your laptop battery won't last as long between charges.
  • Custom power plan - These are only available if either your PC manufacturer (OEM) provided additional power plans, and/or you create a custom power plan. These are available to all users.

See more at:
https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/2843-power-plan-settings-change-windows-10-a.html

Disk Cleanup

You can use Disk Cleanup to reduce the number of unnecessary files on your drives, which can help your PC run faster. It can delete temporary files and system files, empty the Recycle Bin, and remove a variety of other items that you might no longer need.

To find out how to use Disk Cleanup, check this link…
https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/3012-disk-cleanup-open-use-windows-10-a.html

System Restore

System Restore is a way to undo system changes by using restore points to return your system files and settings to an earlier point in time without affecting your personal files.

System Restore uses a feature called system protection that regularly creates and saves information about your PC's drivers, programs, registry, system files, and settings as restore points. By default, it automatically creates a restore point every time you install new software or drivers, so you don't even have to set it up to take advantage.

See more at:
http://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/4588-system-restore-windows-10-a.html?filter[1]=Backup%20Restore
https://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-vista/using-windows-vista-system-restore/

Recovery Options

If you wish to learn about recovery options available in Windows 10 to help you overcome problems that occur while running your PC, check out this article…
https://www.howtogeek.com/107511/how-to-boot-into-safe-mode-on-windows-8-the-easy-way/

If you're having problems with your PC, the following table can help you decide which recovery option to use.

Problem See this section below
Your PC isn't working well because of a recently installed app, driver, or update. Restore from a system restore point
Your PC isn’t working well and you're not sure why. Reset your PC
You want to clear off all your personal data from your PC before you donate or recycle it. Reset this PC > Remove everything > Remove files and clean this drive
Your PC won't start.

or

You tried to reset the PC, but encountered the error: There was a problem resetting your PC.

If you’ve previously created a USB recovery drive
Use a recovery drive to restore or recover your PC

If you haven't created a USB recovery drive
Use installation media to restore your PC
Use installation media to reinstall Windows 10

You recently updated to the latest version of Windows 10, and you want to go back to your previous version of Windows. Go back to an earlier build

Note: You only have 10 days to use this option in the latest Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

See more at:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-ie/help/12415/windows-10-recovery-options

Accessibility Features

Check this link to find out about Accessibility Features in Windows 10.
https://www.howtogeek.com/223319/how-to-manage-accessibility-features-in-windows-10/

Keeping Your Computer Secure

Updated: 1st July 2018

Windows 10 includes some built-in features to keep your computer safe from viruses, malware, and intruders. You can learn more about some of the most important features below.

User Account Control

The User Account Control (UAC) is a security feature that helps prevent unauthorised changes to your Windows 10 computer or device. These unauthorised changes can be initiated by users, apps, viruses, or other types of malware. UAC ensures that these changes are made only with the administrator’s approval. If these changes are not approved by the administrator, they will never be executed, and the system will remain unchanged.

To access User Account Control, follow the steps below:

  1. Click in the search box on the taskbar.
  2. Type ‘uac’

A list of search results appears.

  1. Click “Change User Account Control settings”.

The User Account Control Settings window appears.

  1. Set the UAC switch to the position you want.

Figure: User Account Control Settings with default set, which is shown in green in the full list below.

  • Always notify.
    The UAC prompt is shown when apps try to install
    software or make changes to your computer and when you try to change
    Windows settings. The Desktop is dimmed when a UAC prompt is shown.
  • Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer (default)
    This is the default setting for UAC. UAC prompts
    aren’t shown when you try to make changes to Windows settings. The
    Desktop is dimmed when a UAC prompt is shown.
  • Notify me only when apps try to make changes to my computer (do not dim my
    desktop)
    UAC prompts are not shown when you try to make changes
    to Windows settings, but the Desktop isn’t dimmed when a UAC prompt is
    shown.
  • Never notify.
    This is the equivalent of turning off UAC. It is not
    recommended that you use this setting.

See more at:
https://www.howtogeek.com/220232/how-to-use-the-built-in-windows-defender-antivirus-on-windows-10/

Windows Firewall

A firewall, at its most basic level, permits or denies communications between computers, between networks, or between computers and networks (for example, your home computer and the Internet) based on the firewall’s configuration rules. You can access the settings for Windows Firewall through the Network and Security section in the Control Panel.

Only connections that are explicitly allowed, using firewall rules, are permitted. Windows Firewall, by default, allows all outbound connections, and permits only established inbound connections (that is, an inbound connection that is in direct response to an outbound connection initiated from your computer or network).

To find out how to configure Windows Firewall, check out this tutorial…
http://www.thewindowsclub.com/how-to-configure-windows-7-firewall

Windows Defender

Windows provides support for both antivirus and anti-spyware security, in a single program called Windows Defender. It offers both active and passive protection, and it’s regularly updated with new virus definitions, thanks to the Windows Update process.

Antivirus utilities such as Windows Defender feature two modes of operation:

Passive: In this mode, the program lurks in the background and monitors the computer’s activity, looking for malware.

Active: In this mode, the antivirus program probes all parts of the computer’s memory and storage system, looking for signs of infection. Active scans can be done manually, or they take place on a schedule.

Like other antivirus apps, Windows Defender automatically runs in the background, scanning files when they’re downloaded, transferred from external drives, and before you open them.

You don’t really have to think about Windows Defender at all. It will only pop up to inform you when it finds malware. It won’t even ask you what you want to do with the malicious software it finds—it just cleans things up and quarantines the files automatically.

To find out about other features of Windows Defender, check out this tutorial…
https://www.howtogeek.com/220232/how-to-use-the-built-in-windows-defender-antivirus-on-windows-10/

How does Windows Defender Compare with Commercial Anti-Virus Products

Security experts at AV-Test Institute rate antivirus programs on three criteria, Protection, Performance, and Usability. The antivirus can earn up to six points for each of these. For certification, a product needs a total of 10 points and no zeroes. Windows Defender got 5.0 points for Protection, 4.5 points for Performance, and 4.0 points for Usability, a total of 13.5 points. That's a passing grade, but not a high one. Kaspersky rated a perfect 18 points. Among free products, Avast, AVG AntiVirus Free, and Avira earned 16.0, 16.5, and 17.0 points respectively.

Above excerpt taken from the following article dated 17th Oct 2017…
http://uk.pcmag.com/windows-defender-beta-2/25697/review/microsoft-windows-defender-security-center

Windows Updates

In order to keep your computer secure, Microsoft automatically provides regular updates to your computer. These include important security updates, as well as new features.

To learn more about Windows Updates, check out this tutorial,
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/manage-windows-update-windows-10/

Setting windows 10 privacy when using Microsoft Account

With the rise of Cloud-based services, more and more computer users are putting the trust of their private data with remote servers. This is at a time when the security of online data has come into question following many high-profile breaches.

This should especially be a concern for Windows 10 users as it might surprise you to learn that Microsoft's makes it clear in its Privacy Statement of its intention to collect your data: when you create a Microsoft account, submit a search query to Bing, speak a voice command to Cortana, upload a document to OneDrive, or contact Microsoft for support.

You may be relieved to know that Windows 10 provides settings that allow you to choose what to share and what to keep private. The problem is, those settings are scattered all over Windows 10, so finding them all is time-consuming and not always that easy.

Don't panic, as there is a free tool called O&O ShutUp 10 which runs directly from your desktop and provides convenient access to the privacy settings you may want to examine and tweak.

Check this link below to discover how to use this tool so you choose what content you want to share with Microsoft
http://www.techradar.com/how-to/computing/how-to-use-windows-10-privacy-settings-1322915

Check this link, if you would like to know more about Windows 10 Privacy Settings…
http://www.thewindowsclub.com/privacy-settings-windows-10

Activities - keeping your computer secure -

Activity 3a - Check if windows Firewall is in use

Check the Windows Firewall settings on your home computer and see if it is active or is there a third-party firewall active instead.

 

Windows 10 Productivity Tips

Updated: 1st July 2018

Windows 10 is designed to facilitate both leisure and work pursuits. In this section of lesson, I demonstrate some of the more useful productivity features to facilitate getting your work done, be it for study, home admin or for a business.

The following Windows 10 productivity features are relevant:

  • Windows Task View – Win + Tab Key
  • Virtual Desktops
  • Managing multiple running Programs/Apps inc Hiding/Restoring all Windows, Snapping, Pinning to Taskbar, Jump Lists
  • Onedrive - Saving, Syncing and Sharing Files
  • Taking Screenshots to include when reporting a program error, recording screen from online course or for including in a report

Saving, syncing and sharing files in Onedrive

Onedrive is a service which stores your files in the cloud, or in other words, on a server on the internet. It can be handy for backup of your important files and also for accessing your files on other computers or mobile devices.

Onedrive is integrated into Windows 10 so that there is a seamless use of the service, once it is up and running. So, as files are added or updated in Onedrive locally on your PC, those files are then synchronised with your Onedrive account in the cloud. Also, if you have another PC or mobile device running Windows 10, then these updated files are synchronised with it shortly after being changed on your main PC.

To learn how to use the main features of Onedrive, check out this tutorial…
http://www.gcflearnfree.org/onedrive

Sharing of files and folders can only be done from the Onedrive website, check out this tutorial for further details…
http://www.digitalcitizen.life/how-share-files-and-folders-using-onedrive-website

Task Scheduler

Windows' built in Task Scheduler can enable you to run regularly occurring tasks on a schedule (as the name implies). You can create both simple and complex tasks, ranging from starting a program and sending an email to running complex scripts under specific conditions, all with just a few clicks.

See more at:
https://www.howtogeek.com/123393/how-to-automatically-run-programs-and-set-reminders-with-the-windows-task-scheduler/
http://lifehacker.com/5932456/7-awesome-features-youve-forgotten-about-in-windows-7

Taking Screenshots

Windows 10 has built-in print screen option that works great for basic tasks, but many third-party programs offer more ease of use and features.

Take Quick Screenshots with Print Screen (PrtScn)

The Print Screen button on your keyboard can take a screenshot and save it as a file, take a screenshot of only one window (instead of the whole screen) or take a screenshot and save it as an image file.

To Take a regular Screenshot

Press “PrtScn” button, a screenshot of your currently active window will be copied to the clipboard. You can now paste it into your favourite image editor or document editor.

To take a screenshot of only one window, click on the title bar of the window that you want to capture. Press “Alt + PrtScn”, and a screenshot of your currently active window will be copied to the clipboard.

To Save Your Screenshot as an Image File

Press the “Windows logo key + PrtScn.” The screen will dim for a moment, and then you will see the screenshot appear as a file in a folder entitled “Screenshots”, inside your default “Pictures” folder. The screenshot is automatically labelled with a number, e.g Screenshot (1).png.

See more at:
http://www.howtogeek.com/226280/how-to-take-screenshots-in-windows-10/

Activities - Productivity tips

Activity 2a Virtual desktops

Set-up two work sessions using Virtual Desktops and carry out sample tasks e.g producing your home budget and checking bank balance in session 1, while browsing recent photos with Xnview desktop app in session 2.

Activity 2b - Share Photos with Onedrive

Import a selection of photos from your digital camera into My Pictures folder. Once that’s done, you should then copy the folder into Onedrive and share the link by email with a friend or family member.

 

Getting Started with Windows 10

 Updated: 1st July 2018

local account vs Microsoft account

When starting Windows 10 for the first time you now have to make a choice between using a Local Account or a Microsoft Account. With a Local Account, you only have access to the computer you are currently using. While with a Microsoft Account, you can set it up to give access to all your Windows 10 devices like Desktop, Laptops and Microsoft Tablets and Smartphones.

While a Local Account works much the same as in previous versions of Windows, a Microsoft Account also gives streamlined access to the Windows Store, Onedrive and also allows you sync your settings across all devices. When logging in just with a local Account, you will still need a Microsoft Account to access Windows Store and Onedrive.

If you have ever used Microsoft services like Xbox Live, Hotmail, Outlook.com, OneDrive or Windows Messenger, then you already have a Microsoft Account. Microsoft has simply combined all of their services together and allows you access them all with a single account.

Main Benefits of Microsoft Account

  • Access to the Windows Store - Signing in to Windows 8/8.1 or 10 gives you access to the new Windows Store where you can download modern apps to your Windows 8 computer. These modern apps are similar to the apps you see in the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store. The difference is Windows Store apps can be used on your PC like regular desktop apps
  • Free Cloud Storage – you automatically get access to Onedrive where you will have 5GB of free storage available. Once signed-up, you will be able to access your stored files from all devices running Windows 10 including tablets and mobile phones.
  • Sync your Windows Settings – First of all, set-up your main computer with your preferred wallpaper, themes, update settings, Start screen tile layout and language preferences. So when you login to another Windows device with the same Microsoft Account, your settings will automatically be configured for you. Obviously, this could be a privacy concern for some users as the data could include browser history, favourites and passwords.

Main Drawbacks of Microsoft Account

  • Encouraging users to reveal usage information – Microsoft has come under criticism for opting users into some privacy options by default when the express setup is used during installation of Windows 10. In section below Setting windows 10 privacy when using Microsoft Account, these default settings can be set quickly for optimum privacy so you can use a Microsoft Account with more confidence.

Which Account Type should you use?

When you first start Windows 10, it is usually better to create a local account to get up and running as a Microsoft Account requires an active internet connection on first use. You then have to decide if it is worth switching to a Microsoft Account.

If you only have one computer, you have no interest in Windows Store Apps and you don’t need access to your files outside your home, then a local account will be fine. While if you are interested in new features of Windows 10 then you will need a Microsoft Account to take full advantage of them.

See more at:
http://windows.about.com/od/windowsforbeginners/fl/The-Difference-between-Local-and-Microsoft-Accounts.htm

Start Menu & Taskbar

The Windows 10 Start menu is a hybrid of the old Windows 7 Start menu and the Windows 8 Start screen. Anything you could do from the either of those menus can now be done in the Windows 10 Start menu.

Areas on the Start menu

The new Start menu is made up of several areas which have been numbered in the screenshot below.

Area 1 – Most used programs – This is where your most frequently run programs will be placed. If there is an arrow next to them, you can click on it and a ‘Jump List’ will open. This is usually a list of files that this program has recently opened.

Area 2 – Recently added Programs or Apps – which have been installed from the Windows Store or through the Desktop.

Area 3 – Common Tasks – these are shortcuts to commonly used tasks.

Area 4 – All Apps – This section allows you to browse all the Programs and Apps on your PC in alphabetical order.

Area 5 – Tiles – Each of the tiles on the right of the Start menu represents an App from the Windows store. The pictures/text on the tiles may constantly change depending on the App unlike traditional icons which are usually static. You can pin shortcuts to desktop programs and add more Apps to this area. If you have more tiles than will fit on the Start menu, a scroll bar will appear on the right so you can scroll down to see more tiles.

Area 6 – User Account – In this section you can logout or switch user.

Using File Explorer

Understanding how to work with files and folders is an important part of using your computer. Once you understand how files and folder work, you'll use them all the time.

Check out link below to learn the absolute basics of working with files, including how to open files, move your files into folders, and delete files.
https://www.gcflearnfree.org/windowsbasics/working-with-files/1/

Activities – Getting Started

Activity 1a - Set-up User accounts for All Computer users

Set-up User accounts on your home computer for all users and set appropriate permissions.

To learn how to Create a New User Account in Windows 10, check out this tutorial…
http://www.thewindowsclub.com/create-a-new-user-account-in-windows-8-1

Activity 1b - Check speed of internet connection and compare with advertised speed

Check the speed of your internet connection and compare result with the advertised speed of the broadband deal that you have signed up for.

To find out the download and upload speed of your internet connection, check out this website…
http://www.speedtest.net

Activity 1c - Create copy of your Music collection on portable drive

Create a synchronised copy of your MP3 music collection on a backup drive using Allway sync, which can be downloaded from this website…
https://allwaysync.com/

Manage Your Finances Tutorial for Student in Ireland

Manage Your Finances

Updated: 25th May 2018

Table of contents

1) INTRODUCTION

2) Audience

3) Managing your Money

4) Paying Bills Online

5) Comparison Websites

6) Government Services - Ireland

7) Appendices

 

INTRODUCTION

This handout is intended to be a supplement to the one-to-one lesson of the same name, which is given by PC Tutor – see www.pctutor.ie for more details. It provides additional information which helps improve understanding, and also provides activities to practice key features of programs and web apps covered in lesson.
The handout has been researched from carefully selected internet resources and eBooks, to gain knowledge of subject area within the scope of lesson. Once relevant material was understood and practiced, this handout was then compiled and edited to suit the target audience.
All handouts have been reviewed to make sure they provide plenty of information to support the learner during/after lesson. They have also had a technical review to ensure that they are technically accurate and in line with latest advances in the area.
PC Tutor has qualifications in both eBusiness Studies (inc MS Office Skills and Web Authoring) and PC Maintenance at Fetac L5. He has also worked in the computer business as a Systems Analyst for 6 years and Software Tester for 2 years where he built up strong computer skills while developing business systems.

Audience

Computer users can be divided into five categories:
1. Home user
2. Small office/Home office users
3. Mobile users
4. Large business users
5. Power users.
This guide is aimed at the Home User – Families, school and college Students and Seniors.
A Home user spends time on the computer for personal and social/business communications, budgeting and personal financial management, entertainment, and general web browsing.

Managing your Money


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 6 - 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.

Produce Expenses Chart in Acemoney Lite Software

Introduction

The Acemoney Spending by Subcategories report is one of the main reports in Acemoney which helps you monitor your finances. Each report rows represent a subcategory with a total amount. If you double click on a report line, you will be presented with a list of transactions for the selected subcategory.

The first two steps in this tutorial take you through the download of transactions from your bank and subsequent import into Ace Money Lite. The succeeding steps, takes you through the categorising of transactions and creation of Subcategories Report and Chart.

Step 1 – Download transactions from your bank

All of the leading banks in Ireland, provide the facility to download recent and past transactions from your bank accounts. But not all banks provide a transaction file in the Microsoft Money (OFX) format, which is the format required for this activity. So, check your online bank and see if it is supported. If not, then there is a sample file available in the following shared folder for you to use…

PC Tutor Activity Files

First of all, enter the date range of your txns:

Then, select the format to download txns

Figure 1 – Ulster Bank Download transactions screen

Once you enter the above information, click on the Next button and the Confirmation screen below will be displayed…

Now, check that the Account and Start/End date are as you require…

Then, click on Download transactions button

Figure 2 – Download Confirmation Screen

The file of transactions in Microsoft Money (QFX) format will be downloaded to the your ‘Downloads’ folder.

Step 2 – Import Transactions into Ace Money Lite

First of all, download the Ace Money Lite free version from the following website:

http://www.mechcad.net/


Once you install the software on your computer, you should then choose the menu option: Tools/International Settings, and set the Default Currency to Euro.

Now, you are ready to create your first account, so click on Accounts button and then click on New Account.

Enter the Account Name as:

Bank initials + Type of Account

E.g UB Current

Figure 3 – Create New Account screen

We are now at a point where we can import the Current A/c Transactions file. Select the option: File/import, and then open the file you downloaded from your online bank (or open Current-20170331.ofx if using PC Tutor Activity File).

Before clicking OK, ensure the check boxes ‘Detect duplicates’ and ‘Apply Import Rules are both selected.

Now, click on the Accounts button, and the click on UB Current, and the screen below will be displayed with imported transactions listed…

Step 3 – Add Categories to Imported Transactions

You may notice on the list of imported transactions above, that the Category is blank in most cases. This will need to be set for all transactions that are to be included in the Spending by Categories report, which is the end goal of this activity.

Figure 4 – Account Transaction Screen

Now, sort the imported transactions by Payee by clicking on the Payee Column Heading and then select transactions for ‘0074 Lidl Rathfarnham’ - by clicking on the first entry and then holding down shift-key and clicking on last entry.

Before you apply a Category to transactions, you will have to create an Import Rule, so right click on selected transactions and select ‘Create Import Rule’.

As the transactions are for the Lidl supermarket, you can assign the category as shown

After you create the import rule, you should then right-click on the selected transactions again, and select ‘Apply Import Rule’. You will then see that the Category will be applied to the selected transactions.

Before going on to next step, you should apply a Category to all imported transactions.

Step 4 – Produce Spending by Subcategories Report and Chart

On the main screen, click on the Reports button to display the screen below…

Click on ‘Spending by subcategories’ as highlighted above and then click on the date range in left side-panel and set it to the date range of your imported transactions.

In the case of the sample transactions file, the date range is from ‘01/01/2017’ to ‘31/03/2017’ – as shown above.

Once you set the date range above and click OK, the following tabular report will be displayed. You can click on any of the Categories to display the individual transactions which make-up the subtotal amount.

If you click on the Expenses Chart tab, the screen below will be displayed showing the amount and percentage for each Expense Category.

Step 5 – Add password and Save file

Finally, go to menu option tools/options and set the Password so that your financial transactions are kept private.

Note: For advice on choosing Personal Finance Software like AceMoney Lite used in above activity, see section Appendix 1 - Tips for Choosing Budgeting Software

Paying Bills Online


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/

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

Appendices

Appendix 1 - Tips for Choosing Budgeting Software

Flexible Budget Categories

Be sure the budgeting software you are considering has flexible categories that you can edit, delete or add to. Avoid budget software that locks you into a default set of income and expense categories.

Income and Expense Fluctuations

If you need to work with fluctuating income, it is very important that the budgeting software does not require you to enter the same monthly amount for income.

Envelope Budgeting

Envelope budgeting is a great way to work with fluctuating expenses. Software with an envelope budgeting feature rolls unused funds in spending categories forward to the next month. Envelope budgeting software should also automatically distribute salary payments among the budget envelope categories so that you know how much each month what can be spent from each envelope.

The strength of envelope budgeting is that it forces you to stay in touch with spending habits because once the money is gone from an envelope, you can't spend from that category until the envelope is replenished by the next salary payment.

Budget Reports

You should be able to determine how well you are following your budget on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. If you plan to monitor your spending very closely, be sure the software offers weekly reports. Basic budget reports show the budgeted amount, actual spending and the difference between the two.

Budget Security

Data encryption is a must if you enter account numbers or other identifying information into the budget software or if you import transactions from your online bank account.

Analyse your Data

Most budgeting software will let you export your data to a CSV file or another file format that can easily be read by spreadsheet software.

Easy Budget Set-up

Because you will not set up new budgets frequently, ease of set up in budgeting software is not as important as other aspects are. You do not want budgeting software that is difficult to set up either.

Budget Scenarios

If you want to experiment with budgeting scenarios, be sure that what-if scenarios or saving an existing budget while editing a copy is supported.

What-If scenarios are used to examine how spending, saving or investing money will affect your finances in the future. For example, buying a new car may seem perfectly affordable right now, but plugging income and expenses into a what-if scenario can reveal that the auto loan payment will put your financial plan into the red.

Some examples of personal finance events used in what-if scenarios:

  • different loan packages
  • monthly income decreases or increases
  • paying off a debt early
  • refinancing to a loan with a lower interest rate
  • college tuitions
  • buying a smaller home during retirement years
  • reducing transportation costs
  • Holiday options
  • wedding options

See more at :-

http://financialsoft.about.com/od/budgetingsoftware/tp/How_to_Choose_Budget_Software.htm

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Recent Comments

    How to Maintain your Laptop Battery Tutorial

    Batteries need to be cared for properly — they’re a critical part of all mobile devices and battery technology hasn’t advanced as fast as other technologies.

    Myth about Laptop/Mobile Phone Batteries

    Old NiMH and NiCd batteries had a “memory effect” and had to be completely discharged from 100% to 0% to keep their capacity. Modern devices use Lithium Ion batteries, which work differently and have no memory effect. In fact, completely discharging a Li-ion battery is bad for it.

    Laptop Battery Recharging Routine

    You should try to perform shallow discharges - discharge the battery to somewhere like 40-70% before recharging it and try never let your battery go below 20% except in rare circumstances. Performing regular top-up like this will extend your battery’s life.

    If you were to discharge your battery to 50%, recharge it, and then discharge it to 50% again, that would count as a single “cycle” with modern Li-ion batteries.

    There’s only one problem that shallow discharges can cause. Laptops can get a bit confused and may show you wrong estimates for how long your device’s battery will last.

    Calibrating Laptop Battery to Keep Battery Meter Accurate

    When you first use your Laptop from new, you should Calibrate the battery and thereafter manufacturers recommend you perform a full discharge every 2-3 months. This helps keep the device’s battery time estimate accurate and also conditions the battery.

    In reality, you likely don’t have to do this that often if you’re not too worried about your laptop’s battery readings being completely precise. However, if you don’t calibrate your battery regularly, you may eventually find your laptop suddenly dying on you when you’re using it — without any prior warnings. When this happens, it’s definitely time to calibrate the battery.

    Calibrate the battery while the computer is switched on

    A calibration cycle requires that the battery be completely charged and then discharged to 5% capacity. During the calibration cycle, the power management properties must be disabled to allow the battery to completely discharge.

    Follow the steps below to calibrate the battery power meter readings.

    1. Connect the power cord and allow the battery to charge to 99% - 100% of capacity.
    2. Let the battery rest for at least two hours, leaving the computer plugged in. This will ensure that the battery is cool and not still hot from the charging process. You’re free to use your computer normally while it’s plugged in.
    3. Click Start, type power options in the Search field, and then select Power Options from the list.
    4. On the Select a power plan window, click Create a power plan in the left sidebar.

    Figure : Select a power plan

    Selecting Create   a power plan

    1. On the Create a power plan window, click in the Plan name field, type ‘Calibrator’, and then press Enter or click Next.

    Figure : Create a power plan

    Plan name - Calibrator

    1. On the Change settings for the plan: Calibrator window, select Never for all topics in the On battery column.
      Then click Save Changes to accept the values and force the battery to discharge.

    Figure : Change settings for calibration

    On the screen above, click Change advanced power settings to display the screen below.

    Figure : Change Advanced Settings

    C:\Users\btrea\AppData\Local\Temp\Image.png

    Change the battery settings as shown above.

    1. Disconnect the power plug and leave your computer discharging until it automatically hibernates. You can keep using your computer normally while this happens.
    NOTE: The battery power meter is now calibrated, and the battery level readings should be accurate.
    1. Connect the power cord and press the power button to start the computer.
    2. After calibration, return to the Select a power plan dialog box (Step 4) and select your default power plan setting.

    The key to calibration is allowing the battery to run from 100%, uninterrupted by sleep mode or the screen dimming, to almost empty and then charging it all the way up to 100% again.

    Note: You should also look at your laptop’s manual or help files. Each manufacturer may recommend a slightly different calibration procedure from the one above or provide a tool to ensure your laptop’s battery is properly calibrated.

    Laptop Battery Care

    Heat can reduce a battery’s capacity. This affects all types of devices — even smartphones heat up when performing demanding tasks — but laptops can become hottest of all when under load. The battery is near the electronics that become hot while working heavily — this contributes to battery wear.

    In hot and cold temperatures

    Your climate is also a concern. If it gets very hot where you live or you store your device somewhere that gets very hot on a regular basis — say, a hot car left in the sun on a summer day — your battery will wear down faster. Keep your devices near room temperature and avoid storing them in very hot places.

    Extreme cold temperatures can also decrease the lifespan of your battery. Don’t put a spare battery in the freezer or expose any device with a battery to similarly cold temperatures if you’re in a region with cold temperatures.

    When not using it

    You shouldn’t leave the battery in a fully discharged state for very long. Ideally, the battery shouldn’t be allowed to discharge all the way to zero very often — but if it does, you should recharge it as soon as possible. If you let the battery discharge completely and leave your device in a drawer, the battery may become incapable of holding a charge at all, dying completely.

    When laptop plugged in all the time

    It’s fine to leave your laptop plugged in at your desk when you’re using it, as the laptop won’t “overcharge” the battery — it will stop charging when it reaches capacity. However, just as you shouldn’t store your laptop’s battery at full capacity in a closet, you shouldn’t leave your laptop plugged in for months on end with the battery at full capacity. Allow your laptop’s battery to occasionally discharge somewhat before charging it back up — that will keep the electrons flowing and keep the battery from losing capacity.

    References

    https://www.howtogeek.com/169669/debunking-battery-life-myths-for-mobile-phones-tablets-and-laptops/

    https://www.howtogeek.com/172271/how-to-calibrate-your-laptops-battery-for-accurate-battery-life-estimates/

    https://support.hp.com/ie-en/document/c00817650

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