Saturday, June 29, 2013

Microsoft Office - Customize Your Quick Access Toolbar

I always like to find ways to make things easier or more efficient. Here is one way you can do that using the Microsoft Office applications.

The quick access toolbar is meant to do exactly as the name implies - provide you quick access to the commands that you are frequently using.

Quick Access Toolbar as seen in Excel
If you find that you are always using a particular command and would like to place it along the top so it is within easy reach at all times - you can do that! No more digging around in the tabs and ribbons to find it.

Here is the video walk-through.

Have an awesome day!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Learn to Play Guitar with GuitarBots

I enjoy playing games - I enjoy technology - and I enjoy working in education. As a side note, both my daughter and I are learning how to play the guitar together.

Put all of this stuff together and you will find both my daughter and I learning how to play and having fun while using GuitarBots!

GuitarBots is an online game that teaches you how to play the guitar. I think of it a lot like the popular Guitar Hero but instead of a guitar shaped controller with a few buttons for strings and a toggle switch for strumming - you get to use a REAL guitar with REAL strings and actually learn how to play.

I came across this one day and decided to give it a try. What an awesome learning experience!!

It is free to create an account and you are given 15 minutes of play time each day for free. The idea is that you play the notes just as the little ball bounces on the strings. numbers or blocks on the strings indicate which fret or chord to play. Your microphone picks up the sound and lets you know if you were accurate or not. It will even tell you if you are a bit early or a bit late with your notes.

You rack up points by accurately playing the notes. The points you earn determine the number of stars you will receive. You then use the stars to unlock higher levels. The game comes with a built-in tuner to help you make sure that you have a correctly tuned instrument before you begin to play. You can also earn badges for amount of playtime, number of notes played, etc. All of your stars, points, and other progress go towards your guitarist level.

My guitarist level and badges as of this writing.

I must admit that I am very much enjoying this method of learning the guitar. So much, in fact, that I have chosen to purchase a one-year subscription which grants you unlimited playtime each day as well as access to a live guitar teacher. (At this time I have not accessed this feature yet - so no feedback on that).
You can purchase monthly access for $15, yearly access for $80, two-year access for $120, and lifetime access for $300. I thought this seemed like a great value - especially when compared to paying for guitar lessons.

That said, I see great value in a human guitar teacher but GuitarBots does an awesome job of motivating folks to get that practice time in. I think they could work very well together. My daughter also plays clarinet for the school band and has never been as motivated to grab it and play as she is with the guitar and GuitarBots. I used to frequently push and prod her to pick up the guitar and practice a bit and it often just sat there untouched but after introducing her to GuitarBots, she has grabbed it every day since.

Here is a short video of my daughter playing at the early stages of the game.

This game has really helped me to make my fingerings better and become better at making chord changes. If you are interested in learning guitar or even if you are pretty good already and just want to have some fun, I would highly recommend this game. There is no cost and no need to download and install anything. It was so simple!

Have you tried this?
Do you know of any other fun and highly educational learning games?
I would love to hear your feedback!

Have an awesome day!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Disable Start Screen in Office 2013

By default, when you launch an Office product like Word or Excel, you are presented with the start screen which offers you the opportunity to open a recent document or select templates for a new one.

The Office Start Screen

This is all well and good - but suppose you would prefer to just have a blank workspace every time you launch the program?

Here is how you can do just that...

Just keep in mind that you will have to repeat the procedure for each individual application.

Have an awesome day!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Password Protect Files on Your Computer

Do you have any sensitive information on your computer such as passwords or other account credentials? Are you interested in securing those files so that others in your home cannot have access to them?

There are many ways to tackle this but there is a free and super simple way to do this using a program called 7-zip. You can get 7-zip from their website or you can get it through

This program will allow you to create a zip archive with all the files you want to protect inside and set a password for it.

The password entry prompt when trying to open a protected file.

Please do not forget the password for it. There is no link to click and have your password reset or sent to you...

Here is the video on how to do it.

Keep your information safe and have an awesome day!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Associate File Types With a Specific Program

Have you ever double-clicked on a PDF and saw that Microsoft Word was trying to open it? Do you wish that Windows Media Player would stop launching when you open that MP3 because you want it to open in iTunes instead?

Did you know that you have control over what programs will open by default when you open your files?

Here is how you can do it.

Have an awesome day!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Add Images to Google Forms

Here is a super sweet new piece of functionality that is now available for Google Forms!

The ability to ADD IMAGES to your forms!

One long awaited feature is now here!

Check out the video on how to do it.

I would love to hear how you are using this in your forms!