I am not very computer literate; I get by, but barely. I have been using google earth for several years to plot ancient river channels and old mining claims from MRDS on Google Earth. I have (used to have) pretty extensive maps drawn from all sorts of sources- until google earth crashed, and I lost several hundreds of hours of work- in several instances (I am a slow learner about GE). So I "get" GE (except for the crashing part) and I had multiple layers on it until it ALL went away.

I looked around and it sounds like QGIS may work better, but I have spent a lot of hours trying to figure out how to get QGIS started- despite spending hours looking at "QGIS 101" videos on Youtube. I am very frustrated as this is a GIS terminology is a foreign language to me and apparently the conventions and terminology are foreign to me.

What I am looking to do is to simply add several layers onto either a topo and a satellite image. That's it. It would be nice if the program was set up simply like GE, but would have more defined layers (which I am sure EVERY program has).

I have spent hours trying to get appropriate maps loaded and I am being confounded with too many options and terminology in the windows that I don't understand. I have tried to follow several videos online, and the screens shown on the videos are different from the ones I am viewing. I feel I am spending way too much time, just figuring out how to set up a simple program.

Rather than waste hours of my time trying unsuccessfully to set this up, is there any "service", where a person can be "coached" on how to set up a program like QGIS? My needs are simple, and I assume as soon as I get the program set up, I can start using it, but I am having issues setting it up, despite reading and viewing tons of stuff.

I am stuck on how to download topo maps and how to know about and to get the plugins that I need to get started. It would be nice to find someone to just walk me through the set up with what I need to get started, if QGIS is my answer. Is there anywhere I can go to get this help?

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    Just to provide a couple of links in terms of QGIS, there is the official documentation which contains helpful descriptions and some tutorials. There's also a website dedicated to QGIS tutorials. – Joseph Oct 21 '15 at 15:35
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    Used to be you could get help for stuff like that with Google Helpouts... but hey, Google's good at coming up with good ideas then axing them before they have time to gain the traction that Google expected. If you're goal is to overlay images (or Raster data) onto background imagery, then what you're looking for specifically is call geo-referencing (or ortho-referencing if you're working in 3D). QGIS is probably the easiest way to do it... but I think there are some web based tools for this, though I don't have much experience with them. i.e. georeferencer.com – Cameron Oct 21 '15 at 16:19
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    If you want to learn QGIS, you can also use this training manual: docs.qgis.org/2.8/en/docs/training_manual Even if you have applications with overlaying images, I'd highly suggest going through the whole thing - you'll learn a lot, and you'll also see that QGIS is 'the easiest to use' GIS tool! – DPSSpatial_BoycottingGISSE Oct 21 '15 at 16:40
  • "I am stuck on how to download topo maps" : Using a software and getting data is two different things and you need to split your effort in smaller parts : (1) find out which type of data is read by the software and how to add it (button, script, etc), (2) find the data that can be read by the software. Usually, beginners start by looking for data in the software, and that's where they are often stuck. This question must concentrate on (1) first = there are 2 questions in your question, in fact. – gisnside Sep 4 '17 at 10:56

GIS in general definitely has a learning curve for new users. As aforementioned in the comments for your question, check out the training material listed on the QGIS website. One tutorial I've developed (here) goes through import and various processing steps with a few datasets of different formats (available for download at the tutorial website), and includes overlay atop Google imagery via a plugin. The tutorial also covers, at the beginning, installation of plugins.

I'll note this tutorial was last updated for version 2.12, and is generally applicable to versions 2.x. (An older version, for 2.6 is also available for download at that page).

This tutorial might also be of some use, as it works through finding and downloading some spatial layers for the United States, and importing them into QGIS.

These materials should help getting new users acquainted with QGIS, but you have to carefully follow the instructions, and generally go step-by-step. Unfortunately, website to find appropriate layers for your focal area will depend on the area you're focused on, and the type of data you're looking for.

There are also some courses offered - unfortunately availability will depend on where you're based out of - if you search for "QGIS Training" you might find some - in particular, 'GIS in Ecology' offers some, based out of England, and I'm sure there are others.

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