my books

Oct 302013

Recommended as an overview or reminder, as well as for some specific tips everyone should know.

Windows 8.1 is great for touch, mouse, and keyboard by Amy D

What I found was that touch with Windows 8.1 became second nature to me very quickly. I think most people have a unique “system” when it comes to their PCs and devices. They stay organized in a certain way, keep track of what they’re doing in a certain way, and navigate however feels comfortable. My favorite thing about Windows 8.1 is that I can choose how to do all these things. I found that touch became part of my mouse and keyboard “system” pretty seamlessly.

Windows 8.1 is great for touch, mouse, and keyboard

 Posted by at 8:10 am
Oct 182013

With the release of the 8.1 update to Windows, my Windows 8 for Seniors for Dummies is now out-of-date. Too many things have changed in 8.1 to justify time and money on the 8.0 book. Upgrade to 8.1 (free and easy for 8.0 users) and look for an 8.1 book. Windows 8.1 For Seniors For Dummies is the updated edition. Note that Peter Weverka wrote the updated portions of that book, starting with my Windows 8 book. I have not seen the updated book and cannot comment on the updated portions. However, I will answer questions that I can.

 Posted by at 1:00 am
Oct 172013

On machines running the Preview for Windows 8.1, I have had trouble accessing the Store or locating the Update. If you have trouble getting to the update in the Windows Store, use the following link (in a Windows 8 browser):


Screenshot (31)

(If you’re not using the Pro edition, you’ll still get a download screen for your edition.)

After I selected Download from the previous screen, I saw no indication of progress. Fortunately, there is another link to get you to the Progress screen: ms-windows-store:installprogress

Screenshot (33)

This download is at least 3GB, so it takes awhile. You can exit the Store and the download will continue to run. You’ll get a notification when the download is complete and it is time to move on to the next step.

 Posted by at 4:47 pm
Oct 172013

These are Microsoft’s recommendations to those who are upgrading from Windows 8 (8.0, though that’s not its official designation) to 8.1.

Prepare your PC

There are a few things you should do before you start installing.

  1. Back up your files. Although your files and apps come with you when you update to Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, it’s a good idea to make sure that your files are backed up first, by setting up File History. [mjh: Readers of my 8.0 book will find File History in Chapter 15. The upgrade should not harm your data, but File History is insurance. Skip this at your own modest risk.]

  2. Plug in your laptop or tablet. It’s important to keep your PC plugged in throughout the update process, because if you lose power before it’s done, the update might not install properly.

  3. Connect to the Internet. It’s not required, but we recommend that you stay connected until the update is done. If you don’t, you’ll need to connect again to finish setting up later, and setup will take longer.

  4. Get the latest critical and important updates. There are some updates you might need before you can install Windows 8.1. In most cases, the latest updates will be installed automatically using Windows Update. But if you don’t have automatic updates turned on and you need to check for updates manually, or if you’d like to check to see when the latest updates were installed, you can do this from Windows Update. For more info, see Windows Update: Frequently asked questions

Update to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8 – Microsoft Windows

 Posted by at 1:37 pm
Oct 172013

Follow the link for a decent overview of the new Windows with screenshots.

Windows 8.1 now available! Posted on: Oct 17, 2013 by  Brandon LeBlanc

Windows 8.1 brings a variety of new features and improvements to Windows 8 that we think people will really enjoy. We listened to your feedback and are delivering many of the improvements you asked for.

If you are a consumer with a Windows 8 device, you can now download the free update to Windows 8.1 online through the Windows Store*. Please visit for everything you need to know including how to get the update for your Windows 8 device.

If you are a consumer on a device running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, or the Windows 8.1 Preview – this page on will detect your OS and provide you with all the information you need in order to get Windows 8.1 on your device. I also highly recommend reading our FAQ which answers many of the most common questions about getting Windows 8.1. [see note below]

Starting tomorrow October 18th, Windows 8.1 will also be available on new devices and as packaged DVD product at retail locations around the world. You can also click here to learn about the wide variety of new Windows devices available now and coming throughout the holiday season to find the one that best fits their needs, and their budget.

Windows 8.1 now available!

A note to Windows 7 users wanting to upgrade directly to 8.1: You won’t lose data in an upgrade, but you will have to reinstall your desktop programs. There is a two-step way around that: Buy the 8 (8.0) upgrade, install it, then install the free 8.1 update. For some reason, upgrading from 7 to 8, then 8 to 8.1 doesn’t require reinstalling desktop programs.

For a briefer but broader overview without screenshots, follow this link: Microsoft releasing Windows 8.1, a year in making | ABQJournal Online By Ryan Nakashima / The Associated Press

 Posted by at 10:47 am
Sep 212013

Digital Photography For Seniors For DummiesAlthough I read all reviews of my books, I don’t usually talk about them. I tend to take the negative reviews hard and feel modest (but pleased) about the positive ones. I highlight this well-written review not solely because it is positive, but because it is for a book that is 4 years old and forgotten by the world but one of my favorites. Customer Reviews: Digital Photography For Seniors For Dummies

5.0 out of 5 stars Very helpful!, September 18, 2013

I put off taking the plunge from a big efficient EOS film camera to using a weeny Fine Pix AX 650 digital goodie. That is until I bought “Digital. Photography for Seniors.” I am very senior (83) but where there’s life there’s hope. Was I too old to learn new tricks? Nah! This manual will take you by the hand and trundle you along taking baby steps at first as you follow this fine instruction manual. I even had to learn what a digital camera is and what it is doing- the absolute basics of digital photography about which I hadn’t a clue.

“Digital Photography” is a big handsome book printed in full color on expensive paper. Because the manual is a fine quality production you feel you are getting fine quality instruction as well. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

Of course the manual covers the basics from … [more at the link] Customer Reviews: Digital Photography For Seniors For Dummies

 Posted by at 9:06 am
Sep 192013

See these simple illustrations and explanations of a few essential touch gestures.

Touch: swipe, tap, and beyond – Microsoft Windows Help

If you want to know what we mean when we mention swipe, tap, or other ways to interact with Windows 8 or Windows RT when you’re using a touchscreen, take a look at this table.

Touch: swipe, tap, and beyond – Microsoft Windows Help

 Posted by at 1:52 pm
Sep 082013

Windows expert Paul Thurrott has a thorough review of Windows 8.1 with copious links to more detailed articles.

Windows 8.1 Review | Windows 8 content from Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows

Windows 8.1 Review

Windows 8.1 is a meaningful and welcome upgrade to Windows 8

Sep. 8, 2013 Paul Thurrott

Windows 8.1 Review | Windows 8 content from Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows

 Posted by at 1:41 pm
Sep 062013

Windows 8 users are encouraged to use a Microsoft Account (see Chapter 4 of Windows 8 for Seniors). The benefits of a Microsoft Account include easy use of SkyDrive to backup and synchronize settings between machines and access to the Microsoft Store for apps.

Of course, anytime passwords are involved, there is a chance one will forget that password. The link below takes you to an official Microsoft page for resetting your password. Use it only in an emergency.

Reset your password

 Posted by at 11:14 am
Sep 042013

Skype | Windows Phone Apps+Games Store (United States)

What’s new? – Video messaging – Record life’s everyday moments and share them with the people who matter most, with free and unlimited video messaging over Skype. – General fixes and speed improvements.

Skype | Windows Phone Apps+Games Store (United States)

This feature only appears after a call is not answered. If you just want to leave a message, you can start a call and immediately cancel it. In contrast, Skype on PCs has a separate Video Message option you can access without tricking the program.

 Posted by at 3:03 pm
Aug 262013

Microsoft’s frequent updating of Windows is ultimately a good thing. However, updates can quickly outdate documentation. This is especially true of books. Every book on Windows 8 which was in print the day Windows 8 was released surely contained numerous errors, through no fault of the authors and editors — the product changed that day and many times since. I won’t go so far as to say don’t buy a book on Windows 8 (or any software?) — even a year-old book will have valid and useful information. However, be aware and forewarned — Windows will change faster than print can keep up with. 

In fact, the situation is currently worse with Windows 8.1 because no one working on a book has the Windows 8.1 you will have on your computer in 3 months. It’s a nightmare for the computer book industry. Look for revision dates on all documentation, print or Web-based. peace, mjh

Microsoft Finalizes Windows 8.1 Development | Paul Thurrotts WinInfo content from Windows IT Pro

Microsoft will use the time between [now] … and … October 17, 2013 to continue testing Windows 8.1 in anticipation of releasing a set of interim fixes, called Quick Fix Engineering (QFE) updates. These QFEs will be delivered to PC and hardware makers so that they can add them to their PCs and devices before launch. End users will receive these QFEs automatically via Windows Update within three days of GA.

This process of “finalizing” a product and then updating it before it is released to the public isn’t new; Microsoft did the same thing with Windows 8/Windows RT last year. But it does explain the two-month delta between RTM [August’s Release to Manufacturing] and GA [October’s General Availability], which many had questioned. …[I]n this age of constant iteration, no product is ever really done.

Microsoft Finalizes Windows 8.1 Development | Paul Thurrotts WinInfo content from Windows IT Pro

 Posted by at 12:04 pm
Aug 232013

Outlook Blog – Skype is now available for all customers in North America

Bringing two of the world’s largest communications services together

We believe that your email should work with things you already use. already connects with your Facebook, Skype, and Google friends. Now that you can make Skype video calls from, it’s even easier to stay connected to the people you care about most. 

Outlook Blog – Skype is now available for all customers in North America

 Posted by at 4:26 pm
Aug 122013

I’ve never found a single computer resource that answered every question I have about a topic. I would be very proud to write such a resource, but I have not done so. I say this to a potential reader who expects any one of my books — or all of them together — to answer every one or just the one question he or she has.

Windows 8 for Seniors for Dummies is a book for beginning users of Windows 8, regardless of age. More specifically, its audience includes a reader who wants step-by-step instructions for those tasks I thought a new user of Windows 8 would need to do first. Beyond that narrow focus, my goal was to help the reader attain the confidence to go beyond the basics and beyond the book.

When a reader sends me a question, I answer that question, if I can. (I don’t know everything.)

Occasionally, a reader writes to tell me he is disappointed with my book for failing him. I’m genuinely sorry to let people down. Such a reader hates Windows 8 and is angry with Microsoft and everyone else. The most frustrating of these tell me nothing about how I’ve failed them or are angry that I didn’t anticipate their questions, even those that are beyond the scope of a beginning Windows 8 book (for example, Office and Google are beyond this book).

If you peruse the Amazon reviews, you’ll find side-by-side comments that seem to be about completely different books. One size does not fit all.

 Posted by at 7:46 am