Venice Technology Users Group

Welcome!  We meet at 4pm the first Monday of each month (except Memorial and Labor Day) at the Bay Indies Hall,  950 Freeport Street East, in Venice, FL.  We have some great speakers. and would LOVE to have you join us and our next meeting. Newcomers are always welcome! 

We start with an open question and answer period for about 30 minutes with Scott Rhude, owner of Scott's Computer World, our Vice President, and Bruce Brunette, our President.  All questions are welcome, including those about smart devices such as smart phones, iPads, etc.  We then have an invited speaker. As an added bonus, we now have free WiFi for our meetings.  Also, here's a link to our facebook page. Please join and then make comments or suggestions. 

We end with a drawing of of door prizes that all paid members are eligible for. (membership only $20 per year!)  We  charge $5 for guests to attend our meetings so please feel free to invite your friends.  The best buy is to become a member!  Our prizes typically  include gift certificates for some of our great Venice restaurants.  ONLY members are eligible for the door prizes. We are generally done by 5:45 or so. We enjoy helping each other with questions and sharing tips. 

Our Next Meeting:  September 11  

Did you know that there are tons of free digital things you can get from our local library?  This includes not only books, but also magazines and movies.  Brendan Driscol, the Jacaranda Reference Librarian, will show us how easy it is to do this for both the library and other sources.  Brendan is very tech savvy and will show us the process step by step. 

NOTE:    Meetings are at the Indies House in Bay Indies. They have allowed us to use their large hall at NO charge.   It's easy to find.  Take Bay Indies Blvd north off of Venice Avenue East for 3 blocks. The Hall is on the north side of the pond.   Click here for a map to 950 Freeport Street East.

Past Meetings:

June 5.  Bonnie Hammer, Adjunct Professor at the Ringling College of Art, gave a super useful presentation on how to use our smart phone to take and edit amazing photos.  You can see all her tips by clicking here.

May 1.  Lois Prentice, direct from the Microsoft UTC office, gave us a great overview of Windows 10 features and tips.  She said that each of us can get one hour of free consulting at their office.  Just mention to her that you are a member of the Venice Technology Users Group.  Another great benefit of being a member!

April 3:  Cameron Mengel did a great job explaining all our cell phone and cell carrier options. He is the manager of the Best Buy Cell Phone store in the Sarasota Square Mall and carries all brands.  He is very knowledgable on both Apple and Android phones and all carriers. He gave us his  totally unbiased advice plus answered lots and lots of our questions.  His email is cameron.mengel@bestbuy.com

March 6. Scott gave us great tips on how to improve the performance on our PC's.  If you have a slow PC (or a constipated one as Scott calls it!), here are steps you should take every day when you first turn it on.  

1. Check for windows updates. 2. Use the Disk Cleanup utility. 3. Use the Defrag utility.    4. Clean out your browser history. Contact Scott if you don't know how to do those steps.  He also said it is critical to use a quality virus protection product, such as Trend Micro,  the one he recommends.  Don't use Windows Defender, the one that is included in Windows 10. He also suggested using a Solid State Drive, SSD, to increase performance and reliability.

February 6.  Kelli Tarala, Enclave Security, gave us great advice on how to stop the bad guys from hacking our devices.  Enclave has numerous national and international clients who rely on them for computer security. Her BIG advice was to never use public Wifi because it was reported in Venicethat crooks have been using those to get into devices.  She said it was like "liking the handle" in a public bathroom!  We should also make sure our home wireless routers have a secure password.  NEVER us the one that came with the router.  Kelli also likes password programs such as Lastpass that securely remembers all your user id's and passwords. 

January 9.  Scott shared all his tips, tricks and favorite apps for iPhones and iPads.  He especially likes the Waze app for directions, which is available for both Apple and Android products.

December 5.  This was our annual Holiday Party with snacks and soft drinks.  Scott also updated us on all the benefits of Microsoft 365, including 1TB of date and free use of most MS programs.

November 7

Rino Landa, Reference Librarian at the Jacaranda Library, gave us lots of very valuable tips on how to use Facebook.  He especially recommended that we check all of our facebook settings, such as privacy, notifications.  It was also noted that you can now send audio or video clips using  facebook messenger.  Rino teaches many free classes at the library.  Also check out the free magazines and ebooks on their website: Sarasota Libraries

October 3

Scott gave us some great suggestions on how and why to backup your documents, photos, and videos. We should have both an external drive and cloud storage for our backups.  We should copy and paste files, rather than dropping and dragging them.  We can also use the auto backup utility in Windows 10.  Good clouds to use are the iCloud, Microsoft's One Drive, and Google Drive.  Microsoft just reduced the price so that you can get 1TB, 1000 MB, for $6.99 per month.  That includes all of the Office 365 products for up to 5 devices. 

September 12

Bonnie Hammer gave us lots of good advice on how to take great photos with our smart phones.

June 6

Scott's topic was "Does your Browser Suck?"  He gave us lots of useful tips on using our browser.  His favorite one is Mozilla Firefox, even for Apple computers. He definitely does NOT like the Microsoft Internet Explorer or their new one Edge.  He recommends that we update Flash whenever prompted to do so.  It is safe and necessary for browsers.

May 2

Jeanne-Marie Story from the Jacaranda Library showed us how to read free eBooks and magazines on our computers, phones and pads.  She recommended the free 3M reader app instead of the hard to use Overdrive app.  To download, go to www.ebook.3m.com and click the link on the link for the device you are using.  When you open the app, click on the Florida link, then Sarasota Libraries.  You can use the same library ID number and password that you normally use.  To read magazines, go to www.sclibs.net, click on the Web Resources link, then scroll down to the Flipster link.  They have a large selection of current and past magazines. 

April 4

Over 75 of us heard Scott Rhude give lots of valuable info on how to use the many features of Windows 10 and why we should all switch to it from Windows 7 or 8.  He said we should not use the built in Mail app, but rather a Google or Yahoo mail portal.  He also prefers the Firefox browser rather then Internet Explorer or the new Microsoft Edge browser. 

March 7

Touring author Abby Stokes got rave reviews as she simplified how we can best use our computers, smart phones and tablets.  She showed us, for example, how to save phone battery life, how to customize our settings, how important it is to put a password on our phones, and many other great tips.  All of these and many more are available on her website www.askabbystokes.com   Be sure to check it out!

Februrary 1.  

Scott Rhude showed us how we can get lots of TV programming without paying a bundle to your cable provider.  We can use a digital antenna ($40 to $100) to get local stations free thanks to a law that requires them to broadcast digitally. Your reception and type of antenna is determined by your location.  Signals come from North Sarasota and Ft. Myers. Then, by just having an internet service, you can get lots of TV and movies for about $10/month  from Netflix, Hulu, or Roku.  You will also need a device such as an Apple TV, Google Chromecast, or Amazon FireStick.  

January 4, 2016

Bonnie Hammer gave an informative presentation on Smart Phones on how to setup contacts and sync them to the cloud along with many other useful features.  You can see her full presentation by clicking on this link.

December 7, 2015

We all had fun at our Holiday party with snacks and soft drinks.  Mortgage Broker Tony Moore shared his top 10 ways to improve your credit score and why it is important to do so. Bruce entertained us with his guitar playing and singing of Baby Boomer songs.

November 2, 2015

Gretchen Miscik, Apple expert, gave her very informative presentation on the iCloud and answered many questions about iPads and iPhones.  She further recommended Apple settings, such as Keychain, that remembers passwords.  Also the Find My Phone app that can pinpoint your phone's location on a map.  She is available for private or group consultations. Her contact info is on our Links We Like page.

October 5, 2015

Scott Rhude shared his recent experience with his customers who have upgraded to Windows 10.  About half had some problems, especially with older printers or software.  He recommended that you bring your PC into his shop and he can check for possible issues before you do the upgrade.  He demonstrated some of the new features of the O/S.

September 14, 2015

Bonnie Hammer, Ringling College teacher and long time Sarasota Tech Users Group instructor, gave a great presentation on how to best use our Facebook accounts.  Her suggestions on how to set our privacy settings were especially helpful.  To learn more, you can attend one of her classes.  Check out her website at www.hammerized.com

June 1, 2015

Scott Rhude gave us the following great ideas on how to protect ourselves from internet dangers: 

Don't include your name in your email address, use Mozilla Firefox browser instead of Chrome, ask your credit card company to send a text message code when you sign in to your account, don't post pix of your trip UNTIL you return.   Also when calling your credit card company, use the number on the back of the card, NOT a number from a Google search, which may be a scammer.

May 4, 2015

Barbara Wolfe, Sarasota Technology member, introduced us to many of her personal favorite Android apps, many of which also work on Apple devices.  As an Android user, she loves the Google Calender and Gmail.  Here's some of the other ones: 

GoodRx - It saves you money by giving you the lowest prices at local pharmacies. 

Mycar locator - great for finding your car in big parking lots

Best Parking - gives you the lowest prices for parking lots in large cities.

Photo Transfer - lets you easily transfer pix to and from all your devices. 

BookBub - gives you a daily customized email w free and low priced ebooks

April 6

Scott Rhude shared his favorite apps for his iPhone. These were Waze, Comcard, Spotify, Gyft, youtube, Handyman, Instagram, Netflix, Camera+, Summer Wifi, and Refly. He also just found out that by this summer the Apple TV will include the option of getting 25 local channels for only $30 per month.  This could be a great alternative to Comcast.

March 2, 2015

Scott Rhude did a great job of showing us how to make sure that we don't lose our valuable data by doing proper backups.  These backups can be stored in the cloud or on other devices, such as backup disks.

January 5, 2015

Mike Hutchinson, the President of the Sarasota Technology Group, shared with us all the classes and other resources their group offers.  He also gave us many helpful ideas on how to improve our PC speed by using Defraggler and Revo Uninstaller.  You can get the links to these programs and to the Sarasota Technology Group website at Links we like.

December 1, 2014: 

This was our annual Holiday party with lots of snacks and socializing. Entertainment was provided by Glenn Gary and Bruce Brunette.  Glenn is the owner of the Cabaret of Magic in downtown Venice and did a great job of amazing us with his act.  Bruce has a musical group, Bruce and the Boomers, and sang and played his guitar, doing a selection of fun Baby Boomer songs.

November 3:

Bill Crowe, a Sarasota PC Users Group presenter and 34 year IBM veteran, did a super job showing us how to use the many features of the iPad and iPhone.  He explained many helpful features, including the new Airdrop app.  Check out his Apple and Android battery saving tips in our Free Downloads link.

October 6:

Scott Rhude showed us how to save money by streaming our TV and movie content instead of having a subscription with Comcast, Verizon or Driect TV.  He explained several ways to do this using a powered digital antenna and a streaming device such as Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and Chromecast.  

September 8: 

Scott Rhude did a great job of updating us on all the changes made over the summer to Windows 8 and the new Apple iOS. 

July, August: Summer Break

June 3:

Dr. Susan Schnack did a highly professional  job of educating us on hearing science, including preventative actions we can take to avoid hearing loss.  Some standard medicines for example are known to cause hearing loss.  She also told us about the many new technologies available, including those that help with iPhones and wireless hearing for audio, TV  and theater.

Dr. Schnack received her Doctorate in Audiology from AT Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences. Dr. Schnack worked at both the VA Hospital in Washington, DC and a private practice 2 blocks from the White House where she was the Audiologist for the Secret Service, CIA, FBI and even 3 past presidents!

May 5:

Our speaker was Kelli Tarala, owner of Enclave Security, who will gave us some invaluable suggestions on how to protect your data from hackers.  Most people think it’s just the big companies that are targeted, but everyone is at risk. 

Also, are you having trouble remembering all your passwords?  Kelli showed us LastPass, a free SW program that remembers all your passwords and automatically logs you into websites.  It can also protect you from cyber attacks by generating highly secure passwords.  It's a wonderful tool that she uses with all her clients. You can get it free at www.lastpass.com

 April 7:

Our speaker was Chuck Mason, who showed us how to easily edit our photos using FastStone, a free program. We learned how to crop, straighten, color balance, sharpen, remove unwanted objects, and selectively lighten and darken parts of the same image. The Clone and Heal tool, for example, can make you look much younger!  This free application can be downloaded at www.faststone.org

March 2014 Meeting:

Scott Rhude did a great tutorial on the new Windows 8.  This new operating system is totally different than Windows 7 and has a big learning curve.  He gave us tips that will save us lots of time and frustration. 

February 3, 2014 Meeting: 

Steve Burnett again demonstrated all the great features in iPhones and iPads. He  connected his iPhone to our projector so we saw it all in real time on the large screen. He did a great job and got rave reviews from the largest crowd we have had in years.

January 6, 2014

Our speaker, Scott Rhude, showed us the best way to backup our valuable photos and data.  He recommended the use of a USB drive, which come in many capacities.  He said NOT to use the included backup SW because it  compresses your data.  Delete that SW from your backup disk first. Then use copy and paste to copy your files to the backup disk. He further recommended that we have 3 different  backups.  An example would be your backup disk,  a DVD and  a cloud site, such as Google Docs or Dropbox.

December 2, 2013

Our speaker was Tami Petzer, Professer at Florida Gulf Coast University and social media expert.  Her topic for us was: "Staying in touch with your kids and grandkids using social media such as Facebook and Skype."  This was a very relevant subject for this holiday season. Tami does extensive consulting and we were fortunate to have her for our speaker.  You can access her facebook instructional videos by sending her an email at tamiseo@gmail.com

November 7

Scott Rhude discussed how to better manage your email accounts.  Microsoft has created lots of confusion by forcing all hotmail, live, and msn accounts into Outlook.com  He also  gave suggestions on how to better use your gmail, Verizon and Comcast accounts.

October 7

Chuck Mason showed us how to edit your digital photos using FastStone, a free program,  Ninety percent of the digital photos you take can be dramatically improved with the simple-to-use tools in the FastStone Image Viewer program.We learned  how to crop, straighten, color balance, sharpen, remove unwanted objects, restore damaged photos, enhance portraits, and selectively lighten and darken parts of the same image. The Clone and Heal tool, for example, can make you look much younger.  This free application also organizes your pictures, emails correctly sized images, applies borders and text on photos, and can make your picture look like a painting.  It can be downloaded at  www.faststone.org 

September 9

Scott Rhude did a presentation on how to best create files and manipulate them to make it much easier to find your data.  This is a basic function that we all learned how to do better.

June 6:

Scott Rhude, our VP, showed us how to save money on your Cable TV or Direct TV bill by using our computers.   You can use your internet connection to access web services such as Netflix, Hulu, and many others to watch movies, TV series, documentaries, etc.   Some people have dropped cable TV totally and just use Netflix at $7.99 per month for example.  The tradeoff is you don't get TV or sports live.   

May 6

Steve Burnett was back for another great presentation of iphones and ipads.  He demonstrated all the great features in tablets and smart phones.

April 1

Kelli Tarala, Enclave Security, introduced us to LastPass, a free SW program that remembers all your passwords and automatically logs you into websites requiring one.  It can also protect you from cyber attacks by generating highly secure passwords.  It's a wonderful tool that she uses with all her clients.  You can check it out at www.lastpass.com

March 4

Drew Carney, owner of Gulfcoast IT Services in Venice, did a presentation on how to use smart tablets and phones. 

February 4

We tried something different in February. Instead of a speaker, we brought in our laptops and had a great PC lab.  Scott showed how to improve performance by doing a weekly disk cleaning and defragging, which we did at the meeting.  He also showed us a program that allows Windows 8 users to have a more familiary interface.

To do a Disk Cleaning in Windows 7, click on the start button, then All Programs, then System Tools.  Click on Disk Cleaning  to start the process.

For a defragging, you can use the Defrag utility in the same System Tools folder.  However, it takes a very long time to process.  Scott recommended a free defrag program from Auslogics that is much faster and easier to use.  Here's the link to the free download:  http://www.auslogics.com/en/software/disk-defrag/

January 7

Scott Rhude's presentation was all about PC Safety and Security. We learned how to best protect ourselves from all of the nasty viruses and bugs just waiting to infect our computers. He discussed the differrences between Windows 8 vs Windows 7. Windows 8 comes by default in all new pc’s and is also available in some phones. It is radically different than Win 7.

2012 Meetings

December 3 Holiday Party

We had a great time at our annual Holiday party. Ann Dodderidge arranged for some wonderful food and drinks and we all provided the camaraderie. Santa provided some great door prizes such as gift certificates for restaurants and Staples and an external backup drive.

November 13 Board Meeting

Scott Rhude agreed to be our Vice President with Ann Dodderidge offering to head up our new Membership Committee.  Ann will also make sure meeting announcements are put in the Venice Gondolier each month. We discussed ideas for 2013 speaker topics, such as Facebook, Data Backup, Google Calender and Contacts, Computer Safety and Security, and Smart Phones and Pads.  We're always open to members suggestions for topics and speakers.

November 5 Meeting

Steve Burnett demonstrated all the great features in tablets and smart phones. He connected his iPhone to our projector so we could see it all in real time on the large screen. He answered lots of our questions and we also discussed the differences between the Apple device and the Android ones. 

October 1 Meeting

Kelli Tarala, a principal consultant and co-owner of Enclave Hosting in Venice, gave a very informative talk about the "the cloud" and how to use many of its great features.  As a consultant, she has assisted banks, Department of Defense contractors, health insurance companies, law firms, and local, state, and tribal governments.  We got lots of great advice from her.

June to September:  Summer Break

May 7 Meeting 
Dean Cochran's topic was "Selling on the Internet".  He discussed eBay and Craig's List and had handouts with step by step instructions so that members could go home and list an item.  Craig's list is best for large, local items like furniture and is free to list on their website.  Ebay charges a small fee for each item sold.  We also had some great door prizes, including gift certificates from Scott's Computer World, Office Depot, Big Daddy's and  Gold Rush BBQ.

April  meeting

Our speaker was Scott Rhude, owner of Scott's PC World in Venice. Scott has been working in PC support and sales for over 25 years and is a great resource.  His January presentation was a big hit and his April topic was on Internet Safety and Security.  We learned how to protect yourself from the many, many bugs out there trying to infest your computer. 

March Meeting

We had a great speaker with Phil Sorentino, past president of the Sarasota PC Users Group.  He gave a very informative talk on smart phones, including  info on tablets.  We all learned a lot and understand our phone choices much better now.

One good suggestion Phil had was to make sure your smart phone has the WiFi feature turned on all times, especially at home or office.  That way you won't use your phone data usage, so could get by with a lower cost plan.  Your download speed will be higher also.

March Board Meeting
We had a board meeting before the regular meeting to elect Bruce Brunette as the new president with Ann Dodderidge dropping down to vice president.  See the Contact Us link for the names of other club officers and board members. 

Ann deserves a HUGE thank you for having served as president the past 4 years.  She has been a dedicated servant for our club, spending many hours behind the scenes.  THANK YOU ANN!!

Our speaker was Scott Rhude, owner of Scott’s Computer World, and our Vice President. Scott’s Topic was PC Safety and Security, so you learned how to best protect ourselves from all of the nasty viruses and bugs just waiting to infect our computers. He also covered Windows 8 vs Windows 7. Windows 8 comes by default in all new pc’s and is also available in some phones and tablets. It is radically different than Win 7 and a pain to learn.