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Let me count the ways

Windows 7 has been out about six months now and, while I can't say it was my idea, I can say I really like the new operating system. Beyond performing better than Vista and XP in nearly every bench-marked test, the OS offers new or refined tools one of which is the calculator.

The old calculator did basic chores well enough for whatever mode it was placed in. I often used it in "Scientific" mode to double-check my math when converting between hexadecimal, binary and decimal. The calculator in Windows 7 has new modes with various templates that bring number crunching to a whole new level.

Open the calculator by clicking the Start button, All Programs, Accessories and finally the Calculator which should be near the top of the list. Once open, click View on the menu bar to see the current and other choices on the sub-menu. The old options are there along with two new ones, "Programmer" and "Statistics".

Need to know the difference between two dates? Go further down the View menu, select "Date Calculation", input the desired dates, and click calculate. Thinking about a new mortgage and wondering about the payment amount or want gas mileage figures? Select "Worksheets" from the bottom of the View menu to see templates designed for doing those kinds of tasks.

An odd thing about the calculator is the decimal is grayed-out in Programmer mode. Users must switch to another mode for calculations with a decimal point. Tooltip pop-ups that give users tips when hovering over a button were not included in the new design.

But the calculator was resized with a nod toward soon to be released touch-screen devices where users will presumably be able to use the buttons on the screen as if using an actual calculator.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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