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Updates from the Web

MSC Southeast's computer and Web chronicles

Making computer text larger

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Making computer text larger

I'm not going to wax poetic, or even clinical, on our loss of visual detail definition over time. It happens. We know it. Move on.

Many people seeking to see computer monitors better believe that by using a bigger monitor, the text will increase in size. This is not so. Instead, a larger monitor will let you see more. Think bigger window rather than binoculars.

Luckily, you can increase your text size in both Vista and Windows 7. Here's how:

Windows Vista

To increase the font size in Windows Vista, you need to increase the Dots Per Inch (DPI). You change this by following these steps:

  1. Click the "Start" button
  2. Click "Control Panel"
  3. Click "Personalization"
  4. Look on the left of the Personalization window. Here you will see options for adjusting font size.
    Vista Personalization
  5. Clicking on "Adjust font size (DPI)" will bring up a menu to change your scale. You can choose "Default", "Larger", or choose a "Custom DPI…"
    Vista DPI
  6. Make your choice and click "OK"

You will have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

Windows 7

Windows 7 makes this whole thing easier. You start the same way:

  1. Click the "Start" button
  2. Click "Control Panel"
  3. Click "Appearance and Personalization"
  4. Click "Display"
    Windows 7 Text Increase
  5. Here you have the option of changing the screen to 125%. This normally is enough, but if you need an even larger font, click "Set custom text size (DPI)" in the left-hand column of the "Display" window
  6. You will have to log out or restart to see the effect


How do you know which you're using?

Because it is such a dramatic move, most people know if they have moved to Windows 7. However, if you need to be sure, click the "Start" button. Right-click on "Computer" and choose "Properties". The Properties Window will tell you which operating system you are running.


November Puzzle Challenge

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November Puzzle Challenge

Leet (or 1337), is a language used by tech-heads and geeks from around the world. It uses ASCII characters, in combination with alternative letters and numbers. Do a Google Search for Leet and see if you can translate these names.

  1. j0h|\| moNt3+
  2. t40 pENg
  3. sk0++ |-|@1G|-|
  4. 7H0m4Z d0Yl3
  5. G4|2|2j s|-|1N|}L3|2
  6. M0|-|a|\/|3|) EL|-|1N|}i
  7. @N|)'/ s(|-|o3n

UPDATE: Congratulations to Mary Donlin who was the first to email me back with the correct answers! I will post the answers a little later in the coming week.

Graphing the obvious

(Humor) Permanent link

Graphing the obvious

There is a proliferation of great blogs out there that fall into a certain style. If you haven't seen Failblog,  LolCats, or Cake Wrecks, you are truly missing out on some of the funniest content on the Web.

On of my favorite is Graphjams, a site that allows visitors to put their life observances in quantifiable terms. Here are some of my favorites.


Graphjam - Battery Life

Graphjam - Computer Solve

Graphjam - Class Length

Graphjam - Book Costs

~ John

RSS feeds: Internet the easy way

(Tech Tips) Permanent link

RSS feeds: Internet the easy way

RSS IconWhat if I told you could check dozens of Web sites without actually visiting the sites? I mean, all at once. In one place!

Really Simple Syndication* (RSS) feeds make this possible.

The idea is a simple one. Web site content is packaged into a format that is readable by a wide variety of software programs. This means that the same content can be delivered to email programs, phones, other Web pages, and special programs called feed readers or aggregators. The opportunities are endless.

How it works

RSS feeds can deliver any wed-based content, including blog entries, news headlines, images, and audio and/or video (called podcasts). Content is almost always something that is updated on a regular basis.

Each feed is really a file (in XML format). This file is downloaded by the feed reader. This can happen once a day, or several times a day, depending on the feed reader settings. The feed reader then shows you the headlines and/or a summary of each item in the feed. If it looks interesting, you can click on it to visit the Web page containing the full article.


Podcasts work a little differently. Instead of downloading a summary, the feed reader can download the video or audio automatically. This means you can get the latest edition of Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me? as soon as it becomes available online. iTunes is by far the easiest podcasting feed reader available.

iTunes also has an exhaustive listing of podcasts available online. While the list is found in the iTunes store, the vast majority of podcasts are available for free! You can learn more about podcasts in iTunes in the iTunes podcast help section.

How to find feeds

Feeds are usually indicated by this icon RSS Icon. This is now the standard for indicating there is an RSS feed. Depending on your browser, this icon may appear in a couple of places.

In Firefox, this icon can be found in the address bar, like this:

RSS In Firefox

In Internet Explorer, the icon is found just above, and to the right, of the page window, like this:


Whenever you see this icon, there is one or more feeds available on the page. You can then use your browser to consume (regularly download), any or all of the feeds you find. You can either browse to the feed and click "Subscribe", or copy and paste the URL into your feed reader.

Where to begin

If you use Microsoft Outlook, the easiest way to start is to read your feeds right with your email. Below is an example of how feed appear in Outlook.

RSS In Outlook

Follow these steps to get the feed for this blog in Outlook.

  1. Look for the RSS icon at the top of this page
  2. Click the icon
  3. Your browser will display the feed content
  4. Click on the "Subscribe" link or button
  5. Enjoy!

In Internet Explorer, your feed will automatically appear in Outlook in the "RSS Feeds" as well as in the "Feeds" tab in your Favorites.

In Firefox, you can choose where you want to read your feed when you click the "Subscribe Now" button.

As new content appears, the feed title will become bold and the number of unread feeds appears next to the feed name - just like an email folder.

Don't have Outlook? Try the free Firefox's Live Bookmarks.


RSS feeds are exceptionally handy. Rather than going to each of the sites you love to see what's new, the content comes to you! Check your favorite Web pages for feeds. Many sites list all of the feeds they have available.

*Also "Rich Site Summary", which is possibly a more correct, but less common, resolution to the acronym.

~ John

National Online Security Awareness Month

(Tech Tips) Permanent link

WWW BalloonOkay, so it was October. Still this is important stuff.

There are a number of aspects of online safety to consider. These included email and phishing scams, social networking issues, wireless network safety, and online fraud. Each aspect brings in its own set of considerations, but with a little common sense, you can stay safe and happy online.

Phishing Scams

Phishing (pronounced just like fishing), is a technique by which online scammers try to get your account information in an effort to drain your accounts, or worse, set up new accounts under your name. The practice has been around awhile, slowly gaining in sophistication (sofistication?).

Here is how it works: you receive an email that looks like it comes from your bank or credit card company. It has the bank's logo. It comes from a bank email address, and it looks like your bank's type of communication. Often, they will say they are "updating their records" or "we need to verify your account". They then ask you to click a link that takes you to a Web site like There, they ask you for your account number and password. Once you fill in the info… well, they have your info.

For information on phishing scams, and how to avoid them, visit They have some excellent videos to help bring some clarity to the issue.

Social Networking Issues

Social networks, such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, are a blast. Frankly, it is how my daughter and I communicate most of the time now that she is in college. They allow groups of people to connect and collaborate to an extent unheard of ten years ago.

There are, however, inherent dangers in posting information online. People have been fired for posting what should otherwise be private thoughts to both Facebook and Twitter. The ability to instantly post pictures and information online makes it a bad form of emotional catharsis. It is best to take a moment, consider what happens if everyone reads/sees what you post. If Sister Valerie wouldn't like it, I don't post it.

Here is a video that makes the point quite well: "Think Before You Post"

Cyber bullying is the darker aspect of our networked society. It is becoming an increasingly serious issue, especially among children and young adults (thought it can happen to anyone). In a nutshell, Cyber Bullying "… involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others. -Bill Belsey (via Wikipedia)"

This is an issue, not just for the victims, but for us as educators. There are plenty of tips and resources at I highly recommend doing a bit of research on this growing issue.

Wireless Network Safety

Public Wireless networks are usually safe places, provided the IT profession who set up the network is both proficient and benign. However, there are still some tips you can follow to help keep you safe on a wireless network.

  • Don't shop or check your bank accounts online when on a public network. Entering personal information on such a network can be hazardous if the network is being maliciously monitored (a rarity on home networks). Browsing shopping sites is usually just fine.
  • Try to stick with networks that require a password. If you can jump right on, so can everyone else.
  • Don't concentrate on the screen. Make sure you know if anyone is looking over your shoulder.
  • Make sure your anti-virus software is installed, running, and up-to-date. Don't have one, ask someone in IT. We have lots of recommendations.
  • If you set up your own home network, be very sure to secure it WEP encryption is great. WPA or WPA2 is much better. Check your wireless router's manual for instructions on setting these types of encryptions up. (It isn't terribly hard.)

Online Fraud

This is the biggest money-maker for scammers. Online fraud can take many forms. The most vicious forms can cause irrespirable harm to your computer and credit score. There are two main techniques to getting your information online; malware installation and flat-out fraud.

Malware refers to programs that are installed on your computer, with or without your knowledge, that then send information back to other computers. This information is usually personal and not something you'd normally let your mother-in-law have. To get a crash-course in spotting malware, try this game from

Beware of Spyware Game

Fraud exists online, just as it does in all other avenues of commerce. There are steps you can take to make sure that the site you visit is legitimate.

  • Is it a name you recognize?,, have a long standing presence online. Ask around. If someone else has purchased from these sites, they may have a better reputation.
  • Do they have a terrestrial address? If you can walk up to their door, they are less likely to be fraudulent.
  • Is their credit card page secure? While it is unlikely that someone is sniffing your connection (see wireless safety above), only legitimate sites will have secured connections.
  • Do a Google search. If there is a scam out there people will blog about it or post information on the forums. Search for the name of your site in a search engine, ignoring ones that have that name in the URL.

You know who has good tips on avoiding fraud? The FBI (, that’s who.

More Resources

For more information on online security, please visit

Update: 4.6.2012 ~ Even More Resources

In addition to general online safety, these resources also cover cyberbullying, Internet safety for kids, and fostering online communication.  

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Ms. Svensson's 8th Grade Computer/Technology Class for providing these excellent resources!  

Welcome to the Updates from the Web Blog!

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Welcome to the Updates from the Web Blog!

This is the sounding board for Information Services at Southeast Technical. Here you will find tips, tech news, and computing advice. While much of this content is geared toward Southeast Technical students, faculty, and staff, there is plenty here for everyone!

At times simplistic, at times technical, always irreverent, this information is for you! Please visit often. Better yet, subscribe to our RSS feed by clicking the link below, or adding your email address to our notification list.

Happy reading! Oh, and have you tried turning of then on again?

~ John


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