Archive | Podcast

Not Much Feedback – WHS 9

I think I have a bad connection

This week’s podcast was supposed to be a feedback episode but I didn’t receive any. Instead, I decided to cover a few tech news items that I thought would be interesting to homeschoolers. Links are below:

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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Internet Filtering and Accountability – WHS 8

Internet filtering and accountability software are some of the greatest weapons in the homeschoolers arsenal in fighting against the onslaught of objectionable content that sometimes seems to seek out your family and can ruin your homeschooling experience.

Why is this important?

In this episode of The Wired Homeschool I discuss why a homeschooling family should use filtering and accountability tools and what I feel is the best combination of tools to protect your family from undesirable and accidental exposure to objectionable content.

There aren’t going to be a lot of notes for this episode. I was speaking freely and felt it was necessary to convey my feeling naturally rather than script out my passion for this topic. Here are the products and/or websites I mentioned in the podcast:

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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Basic PC Maintenance (Hardware) – WHS 7

PC maintenance is essential for making sure you have a smooth-running computer. Today on The Wired Homeschool I discuss the necessary hardware maintenance that everyone should be doing to keep their computer healthy.

Please note: before cleaning any part of your computer you should make sure it is turned off and unplugged.

Keyboard and Mouse

The keyboard and mouse are the two components that you touch the most. Each of these items get a lot of grime and gunk from your hands and the environment.

The first thing you want to do with your keyboard is shake it out every two or three weeks. This dislodge dust, staples, food, and anything else that accumulates inside your keyboard. You may also want to use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner and pass it over the keyboard a few times.

Never wash your keyboard in the dishwasher! There are a lot of stories and anecdotes on the Internet about people washing their keyboards in the dishwasher but this could potentially ruin it.

The mouse doesn’t require as much maintenance as in the past. Older mice have a ball and rollers inside them that needs to be cleaned every once in a while. Now all you need to do is keep the optical sensor clear of dust and dirt.

Monitor

The monitor is the window to your computing world and you’ll want a clear view of the technical landscape as you sit at your desk. Please note: you should never use glass cleaner or any cleaner with ammonia in it to clean your monitor. These cleaners will strip the anti-glare coating from your monitor over time and make it very difficult to view.

Instead you can use a lint-free cloth or paper towel moistened with water to remove fingerprints and dust from the monitor. That’s really all you need. If you have an stubborn fingerprints on your monitor use a cleaner designed for LCD monitors or HD TVs.

Never spray any water or chemical directly on your monitor. You should always apply the cleaner to your cloth before wiping the monitor.

If you have an old CRT monitor you should never stack anything on top of it. This blocks the ventilation slots and can cause your monitor to overheat. LCD monitors have ventilation slots too so make sure those are clear of dust bunnies.

Printer

Printers can get pretty nasty. Laser printers can accumulate toner inside of them, especially if you’re using cheap or refilled toner cartridges (which I highly discourage you from using). Get out the vacuum and gently clean out the inside. Make sure you put your toner cartridge in a box to prevent the light from damaging the imaging drum.

Ink jet printers sometimes need the print heads cleaned. Most printers have the ports built-in to the cartridge itself and don’t require any maintenance other than running the cartridge cleaning utility. If you do have separate inkjet ports you can usually soak them in alcohol or ammonia.

PC Case

Your PC’s case is the most important thing that needs to be kept clean. Dust acts as a insulator and can cook the components inside your computer. You want to be very careful cleaning inside your PC. If you’re uncomfortable with this part. Ask a friend who is a techie to help you.

You’ll want to vacuum out the fans and any ventilation slots. Get that dust out! Be gentle and careful vacuuming the motherboard. You may even want to get an attachment specifically designed for use on a computer for this, possibly even a vacuum cleaner designed for computers.

I do not recommend using compressed air inside your computer’s case. It can shove dust under the components. If you have some fans that vacuuming couldn’t clean, remove them from the case and use the compressed air outside and away from the computer. If you must use compressed air, turn the computer so that any dislodged dust falls out of the computer.

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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Basic PC Maintenance (Software) – WHS 6

PC maintenance is essential for making sure you have a smooth-running computer. Today on The Wired Homeschool I discuss the necessary software maintenance that everyone should be doing to keep their computer healthy.

Security Updates

Most security updates for your operating system are automatic no matter what platform you;re using (Windows, Apple, Linux) and this is a good thing. However, you should keep an eye out for any “out of cycle) updates that may arise which could require you to download and install a patch.

Not only are your OS updates important but your software that you use with the operating system is important too. Applications like Adobe Reader and Flash, Java, CD/DVD burning software, office productivity tools and more need to be updated. These usually do not come automatically but you can use Mozilla’s online plugin check to make sure the majority of these applications are up to date.

Secunia’s Online Software Inspector is also a great resource for checking for any security updates that may be available for software you’re using (Windows only).

Anti-virus/Spyware

Anti-virus and anti-spyware detecting software is critical for all Windows operating systems. With over 90% of the PC market share they are the largest and most often attacked when it comes to security vulnerabilities. I always recommend that people use Microsoft Security Essentials because it’s free and made my the company that wrote the operating system. It’s not nearly as intrusive as packages from McAfee or Symantec and doesn’t bring your computer to a grinding halt when a scan is in progress. Another great tool is SuperAntiSpyware which will scan and remove any spyware that may be present on your computer. It’s free and easy to use.

While anti-virus software isn’t essential for OS X, I do recommend using it if you interact with a lot of people who have Windows computers. It’s irresponsible to pass along an infected file and using a product likeClamXav will help to prevent you from passing along little nasties to unsuspecting colleagues. CNet has a great list of anti-virus software for the Mac if ClamAV isn’t your cup of tea.

Disk Maintenance and Back-ups

Disk maintenance and backups are important for everyone. These tools will make sure your hard drive is running in top shape and if there is a problem, you’ll be able to recover your data.

Windows comes with a few disk maintenance utilities built-in: chkdsk and defrag. I recommend that you run both of these tools once a month. Another tool you may want to check out is Microsoft’s online repair tool:Fixit.

OS X doesn’t generally require you to be as diligent about disk maintenance. However, there is the built-inDisk Utility that you can run if you’re experiencing problems with your disk.

Backups are important too. I won’t go into too much detail except to say that both Windows and OS X have built-in tools for backing up your data and you should use them regularly. Time Machine for OS X and Microsoft’s Backup (for Windows XPWindows Vista and Windows 7) are the tools you’ll want to use.

I also recommend that you make online backups of your critical data like photos, school records, tax information, important email, etc. To do this you can use any number of automated online backup tools likeMozyCarbonite, or Back Blaze. These are available for a monthly fee.

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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Feedback – WHS 5

Today’s podcast is a feedback episode. I respond to feedback from listeners and talk a little about subscribing to the podcast and other features of the website.

Links mentioned in the podcast:

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If you’d like to leave feedback about this or any other episode you can call and leave a voice mail by calling 518-290-0228, send email  to feedback@thewiredhomeschool, or leave a comment on the blog. Follow me on Twitter: @jwilkers. Also follow the podcast on Twitter: @wiredhs. Join the Facebook page over at http://facebook.com/wiredhs

The Wired Homeschool is a proud member of the Tech Podcast Network. For more family-friendly tech podcasts visit techpodcasts.com

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