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I'm always looking for good resources for people trying to learn more about their computers.

I talked to someone this morning who asks her grandson when she gets stymied on her computer but was concerned because he fixes the problem but doesn't tell her what the problem was or what the solution was.  She didn't fell like she was learning anything.  Sound familiar??

I spent some research time and came up with a website course that looks pretty good.  I thought I would share it with you.  Check out the website for more information.

A sitemap (a.k.a. Site Map) is a outline of the content of a website that is visible to the crawlers (the programs that search the Internet looking for content).  Remember that each search engine has it own programs (crawlers) that constantly read, organize, and evaluate the relevance of the content of websites.

A good sitemap has 2 functions:

  1. Outline the content of the website for the people visiting there that want to see it's organization quickly.  It's like the index of a book.
  2. Outline the content of the website for the search engines in words so that the search engine knows what words are important to the website content.  The more times a particular phrase is uses (e.g. "german shepherd dog"), the bigger the impact on the search engine being able to tell where to put information for that website in lists of importance.

The sitemap for GSDCA.org is in the footer menu at the bottom of every page on the website.  If you are a GSDCA member and are logged on, the sitemap is smart and knows to include the content that is reserved for viewing only to members.  The crawlers do not index those pages because they are not available to the public.

When you go to a very large website, it can be helpful to check the sitemap if you're looking around.  Sitemaps are always there somewhere but some websites choose to show them only to the crawlers and not the humans. 

There are a lot of words that get thrown around but it seems 2 of the more confusing are "browser" and "search engine".

Both of them are software.  Both of them are found when using the Internet.  They work together but there is a BIG difference between them.


A browser is a program that takes all the various pieces of a website (pictures, articles, presentation features like color and fonts) and puts them together so that you see them as an integrated website. 

The top browsers in use today (in order of use as of July 2012) are:

  • Google Chrome or just Chrome (the Google in the name is sometimes confusing because Google started as just a Search Engine)
  • Mozilla Firefox (MSN's desktop is a modified version of Firefox)
  • Internet Explorer - also called IE - (AOL's desktop is a modified version of Internet Explorer)
  • Google Chrome
  • Safari
  • Opera
  • AOL (usage is becoming significantly smaller every year)
Search Engine

A search engine does what the name suggests.  It searches for relevant websites based on key words.  If you want to know about something, you type it into the search engine and it will give you thousands (millions sometimes) of websites that have one or more of the key words associated with them. 

The top search engines as of May 2012 are:

  • Google with almost 67% of the searches on the Internet
  • Bing (15%)
  • Yahoo (14%) (Note:  Bing and Yahoo are in the process of merging)
  • Ask (3%)
  • AOL (2%)

Each search engine has a different way of storing information about websites and determining in which order they should be displayed.

Read more: Browser versus Search Engine

Here are some hints to help you create better emails:

  1. Be courteous with your greeting and closing. Using courtesy in the main text - please and thank you where appropriate - never hurts either!
  2. DO NOT PUT EMAILS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!  This is considered shouting.  Ditto too much bold type.
  3. Make sure your subject line is descriptive, reflects the subject and is properly spelled.  Keep the description as short as possible.
  4. Keep emails as brief as possible.  Emails are intended to exchange information.  If you have exchanged more than 3 emails on a subject and it's still not resolved, pick up the phone.
  5. Make sure if you attach documents (files, photos, etc.) that they are sized appropriately.  Different mail systems have different rules .  Remember that KBs are less than MBs (by 1,000 times) and MBs are less than GBs.  Email prefers KBs.  Many mail services prefer attachments less than 5 MB.  Ask the recipient before sending an attachment larger than 5MB.
  6. Remember that emails can be forwarded to a lot of people.  Do not discuss confidential information.
  7. Spell check not only the content but the name of the person(s) to whom you're addressing your email.
  8. Read your email out loud.  If you are pounding the keys when writing an email, save it as a draft and review it before you send it.
  9. Use proper sentence structure and avoid "texting" words like 'U' rather than 'you'.
  10. Acknowledge receipt of emails you receive from someone you know, even if it's just "thank you".  (You may wish to ignore this one for annoying chain emails.)
  11. Do not use patterned stationary.  It's hard on the eyes and really annoying.  Online reading is 25% harder on the eyes and patterns drive that up to 75%.
  12. Keep it as simple as possible while still getting your point across.  You can usually remove about 50% of the words in your email and still communicate.
  13. Put people you expect a response from in the To: line and people that you are just informing in the CC line.
  14. Only use Cc: when it is important for those you Cc: to know about the contents of the email. Overuse will cause your emails to be ignored.
  15. When forwarding an email, if you cannot take the time to add a little comment about why you thought they would be interested and "clip" (delete) the extra text (such as 3 versions of the content), don't forward it.
  16. Do not use Reply All unless everyone needs to see your response.
  17. Don't forward hoaxes.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.