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Last post 10-29-2009 4:10 AM by cartoon. 0 replies.
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  • 10-29-2009 4:10 AM



    I firmly believe that experience is the best teacher, for example, I could spend hours explaining what it is like to drive a car. I could tell how it is different steering a car when it is driven at five miles per hour versus 60 mph. then I could explain how you need to think in reserve when you back up. I could do that, or I could tell you that the only way to learn to drive is through actual experience, supervised of course.


    While sitting in front of your computer keyboard, you are not in on danger of driving into a tree or running over pedestrians, so it is safe to plunge right in on your own.


    When I tell people this, a frequent response is that they ought to go buy a book. A large number of these people are surprised to learn their computer comes out of the box with the equivalents of an instruction book consisting of many hundreds of pages.


    The key to this incredible library is to press the F1 key. “The Help Key” [F1] is the de facto standard method of accessing the help system in most computer programs. Whenever you have a question or you get lost, the quickest and easiest way to get help is to press F1.


    Open any program on your computer and press F1 to start the general online help system. If nothing happens, click on File then Help. Sometimes, the Help menu will point you to a help file located on the company website. It is rare to encounter programs that do not include this feature in some form or another. Once the help system is invoked, a table of contents usually pops up with a provision for searching.


    Sometimes pressing F1 does not take you to the general help system, because many programs include “context-sensitive help.” When you press F1, the computer will display a help topic most closely related to whatever you were in the process of doing when you pressed the help key. In other words, if you were in the process of trying to print and you press F1, you are most likely to get a help screen with a list of help topics related to how to print. This context-sensitive help is not really intended to be accessible for reading as a whole. Each topic is supposed to describe in detail only one situation, or a single feature of the software.


    Context sensitive help is sometimes implemented by using tool tips or a “help-start pointer”. Tool tips are small balloons (information windows) which appear when you hover the mouse over an object without clocking on any mouse buttons. The balloon encloses the briefest description of the help topic. A help start pointer is found on the “Help” pull down window and, when clicked on, changes the mouse pointer shape to a question mark. In most Microsoft applications, clicking on the “Help” menu then clocking on “What is this?” activates this feature. In Microsoft Word, move the question mark shaped mouse pointer over the little icon that resembles a blank sheet of paper and clock there. The help system then answers with: “New blank document… create a new blank file.”


    It is often not necessary to buy a book to study, because so many programs come with this type of help system already installed. Some of the help systems do have a [Print] button, but be warned  the manual could be hundreds of pages long!    

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