I am new to Ubuntu and have installed it side by side with windows 7. Both boot up okay, my problem is I can't get to disk utility to create a partition that I can share between both OSs. Help says go to activities -> overview and select disk utility there. I can't find activities.
Accessing Disk Utility:
I'm sorry you have encountered this level of confusion. Help is referring to the activities overlay that is in GNOME Shell, but you are most likely using Ubuntu's Unity Desktop. Since both are "Shells" for GNOME, the help can overlap sometimes.
What you need to do is open the Unity Dash (it's the button with the Ubuntu logo on the upper left), and type Disk Utility.
However, as Bruno pointed out, you need to install Gparted to actually create partitions with a GUI.
To do this, open the Software Center, search for Gparted, and click install. (Or click this icon: gparted )
First make sure you have
gparted installed. Now, in order to access software using the default Unity interface, either press the Meta key (Windows) or press the Ubuntu logo on the launcher.
From the Dash Home type
Partition Editor until the GParted Partition Editor appears in the search results
From here you can either strike Enter or use your mouse to click the Partition Editor icon.
If you want to create partitions and move data around you can do that with several tools, the default installed tool
Disk Utility can be called from the dash by pressing the super key and looking for Disk in the search box.
For a better utility that allows you to do more with your partitions I recommend
Open a terminal (press Ctrl+Alt+T) and install
sudo apt-get install gparted
gparted is an utility that allows you to create/move/resize partitions around without loosing (hopefully) your data.
After installing it you can just open your dash by pressing the super key and looking for
Remember just one thing, you need to have the disks unmounted while doing stuff on them with
gparted so you cannot do it on the same disk you boot from (its mounted).
To do it on the disk you boot from you need to use the LiveCD to boot and use the same instructions/program to use it.