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General Tips and Tricks for having fun with your computer

As of 7-1-2016

Your computer can be the center of entertainment in your home. It can be a place to:

Listen, Look, Learn, Create, Laugh, Cry, Shop, Read, Watch TV. This is just a sampling of the things you can do with your computer just for entertainment. If you include a TV board and a reasonably nice set of speakers, the computer can be your central entertainment center of the home. To do any of the things in the list below, check my Web sites list. I have links to many of these already for you. If you don't find it there, use a search engine and try searching for the subject. Be sure to learn about ways to search.

Play Games. Most computers come pre-loaded with a few games. Many more are available for free on the web. Many more are available as inexpensive shareware.

Check the many family sites for additional suggestions. For example, look for "Travel Games" and see what comes up. Try looking for "Origami" (the art of paper folding).

Learn new games. Play games with others. My cousin plays Contract Bridge with groups on the web without leaving home. You can play Monopoly, Scrabble and others the same way.

Caution: You can gamble on the web and you can ruin your life on the web if you do not have self control.

Learn the rules of games. Rules for every known game are on the web and many you never heard of. Start by searching for "rules of games". You will find many sites for different purposes.

Play Music. All current computers have CD music players built in. Just insert a music CD and sit back and listen as you work. Newer computers may have DVD players that play DVD movies in higher quality than the new HDTV being sold for thousands. 2016 note: some computers have no CD/DVD drawer. You would need a USB external drive to do this.

Download music. You can find almost any kind of music for free, download it and play it on your computer.

Compose Music (if you are inclined). Software is available on many sites on the web for a nominal cost to turn your computer into a composing machine for composing your own songs.

Read humor. Lots of places to get jokes and cartoons. My favorite is www.glasbergen.com. Randy Glasbergen is the author of THE BETTER HALF daily newspaper cartoons. He does a daily cartoon for the web and has what I feel is the best sense of humor of any cartoonist alive. You can sign up to get a new cartoon daily in your email.

Research and share Hobbies. You name it. Cooking, Arts & Crafts, Collecting, Animals, Photography, Genealogy, etc. There is info on any hobby you can think of. You can just read what others have posted or add something of your own.

Learn or expand Genealogy. This is probably one of the biggest hobbies on the web. The main software most people use is called Family Tree Maker and is inexpensive. People all over the world have been sharing family tree information and photos that would have been completely unknown a few years ago.

Learn about other places in the world. Called Virtual Traveling. You can visit almost anywhere in the world from the comfort of your seat and even request literature from them.

Visit Art galleries, Museums, Zoos all over the world. You can download pictures (only for personal use without violating copyrights) and make wallpaper on your screen or include in non-commercial projects.

Read newspapers, magazines all over the world. Most Magazines and newspapers have a web site. This is especially nice to keep tabs on another part of the world where you may have ties.

Read the news. All news services have sites. CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, AP and many others. All sports services & weather services have sites. You can watch for severe weather or learn about volcanos.

Listen to Radio stations all over the world. Same comment as above except it is real time. You listen as it is broadcast. Much better than short wave.

Buy tickets to/for anything. Movies, Concerts, Travel. If they sell tickets, you can probably purchase them on the web. The nice thing is you can get a lot of info before you decide to purchase.

Check schedules of anything. TV, Airlines, Public Radio and TV, Events, Local and national. All entertainers have their tour schedules posted.

Check the TV Guide for your local listings daily.

Learn about things seen on Discovery Channel/ HGTV and others.

Keep in touch with family and friends anywhere. By e-mail or instantly with various forms of Instant Messaging.

You can even make free long distance phone calls for keeping in touch.

SHOPPING FOR ANYTHING and I do mean anything. Buying on the web is just a safe as buying anywhere else if certain precautions are considered.

Create Art. You can draw on your computer. You can make house plans, landscape plans or be completely creative in any form of art.

Read a Book. The web has many sites where you can download stories and complete books less expensively than buying a paper copy. This is an area that is progressing slowly. Folks still like the feel of paper. For example, many still print e-mail in order to read it. The whole purpose of e-mail is to eliminate paper, but it seems we don't like reading on a computer screen as well as reading paper.

Watch Television. Add an inexpensive option to your computer and connect the TV cable to it. Your monitor becomes a TV screen for local, cable or satellite. Whatever comes in on your TV coax line. It becomes a second TV for a bedroom or a main one for a small home.

Find people. You can find long lost relatives or classmates.

Get freebies. The saying "There is no free lunch" does not apply here. There are many valuable free things on the web. There is a ton of software to do almost any job you want. There are coupons for lots of free stuff. A whole industry has sprung up around offering free things. So then the question is, How do they get paid?

Some get paid directly through advertising much like the newspapers and magazines have always been supported. For example, I gave a student the software to install Juno free e-mail a few years ago. She came back next week and said " Juno is not free!! I've already bought 3 things!!

Some get paid in ego. Just knowing they have helped someone else is reward enough. As an example, there is no charge for the information on this site. I spend many hours creating pages such as this one because I love teaching. I get a lot of feedback telling me how valuable some of my information has been to them. I'll get a little philosophical here. The Bible says "There is More Happiness in Giving Than Receiving:. I assure you it is true.

Attend auctions, buy/sell/trade things. Many folks are cleaning out their closets and garages. The saying that "One man's junk is another man's treasure" is now a worldwide phenomenon.

Send greeting cards. This originally threatened paper cards for a while. Many sites offer outstanding selections, are sent via E-mail and don't require paper. Many will not print.

Keep your calendar and address book. Lots of folks are getting into PDAs and keeping the calendar and address book electronically. My wife just got her first Handspring Visor and loves it. She can make calendar or address book entries in the computer or on the PDA and synchronize the files at any time. I just started using my cell phone for my phone numbers. The Handspring can even be the cell phone with an accessory.

Buy/sell vehicles. New, used, any where, any kind. Check Kelly Bluebook values wholesale and retail.

Learn about History (Yuck!) For history buffs, the web is a wonder of information.

Get new recipes for anything. Food, drinks, household product formulas.

Get household hints for anything or information on repairing anything, even toilets.

Get medical advice. Does not replace doctors, but information on any disease, medicine treatment, or procedure is probably discussed. Especially helpful in finding support groups.

Look up information and words in dictionaries and encyclopedias. The best starting point is One Look Dictionaries. You type in a word and they search for definitions in a bunch of online dictionary sites.

Get information on any sport. You name it and there is a site for it. For example, try typing baseball, football, basketball, soccer, etc. into the www.xxxxx.com formula. I just tried it and they all worked. Another site is www.sports.com with subpages to various sports.

Get travel information and check for lowest costs. Lots of good and bad stuff out there, so be careful. I have bought tickets on line and it worked fine.

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