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facebook-icon-28x28.pngVisit my Briticiser Facebook Page to keep up with things here - lots of reviews of stuff I’ve really used and also all kinds of helpful computer tips with a heavy bias towards SAVING YOU TIME.

How to quickly toggle sharing of a computer’s folders on a network

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170816-130524

There may come a time when you want to only make a computer’s shared folders available to other users temporarily. An example of this would be if you wanted to periodically back-up your server to another computer in which case you’d need to turn sharing on, on that computer, and then turn it off again when you’ve performed the back up.

Please note that this works on Windows XP (long live XP!) and using an old computer for back up purposes is a great idea - because we all do back-ups, right?

As you can see below I have two icons on my target computer’s desktop which are just shortcuts to two batch files. Batch files are just ordinary text files but saved with a .bat extension instead of the more usual .txt and the text they contain is a special command which will be interpretted and executed by the computer (instead of simply opening the file in a text editor).

Batch files are very useful things once you get used to how they work!

Shortcuts to batch files

As you can see above my shortcuts point to a couple of batch files which I have stored in the “Batch Commands” folder which is sandwiched between them.

Here are the respective commands I used in those batch files - just a single line of text needed at the top of the page in both cases:

Disable Sharing.bat

netsh firewall set service type=fileandprint mode=disable profile=all

Enable Sharing.bat

netsh firewall set service type=fileandprint mode=enable profile=all

The easiest way to create the shortcuts is to open that folder in Windows Explorer and simply right click on each file in turn, and choose “Create shortcut”, then copy the shortcuts to the desktop where you can right-click to rename them or to change their icons via the right-click “Properties” option.

Want to start backing up or synchronising your files but don’t know where to begin?

For anyone interested, scared, nervous, or just plain lazy I use Cordes Development’s “Leanware Backer” to perform my back-ups. Other programs will do much the same (some probably better) but Backer is easy to use, reliable, and definitely NOT bloated with features you’ll never need. It will also allow you to synchronise files between computers/flash cards, which I’ve used to good effect before when I’ve needed to work on files using my work computer and my home computer, and carried an SDHC card around in my pocket which I synchronised with those machines both before and after doing my work.

I find this better than cloud computing because you know that no-one else can access you files and, also, you’re not reliant on having a stable internet connection.

You can try Backer before you buy but, for just EUR 39, this program is truly excellent value for money and will be all you need for… ever. Download Leanware Backer here:

http://www.cordes-dev.com/english/trial.html

Unfortunately Backer is a Windows-only program so anyone using a different OS is out of luck.

How to crack the password on an Excel VBA Project

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170809-124855

I never set passwords on my VBA Projects. Initially this was out of pure laziness but they’re not secure anyway so setting one is pointless if the sole reason for setting one is to keep your code a jealously guarded secret.

Now, there are legitimate reasons why you might want to crack a VBA Project password and I recently needed to do just that on one of the workbooks in our office which was causing the user a problem when trying to copy and paste from one sheet to another: when the user selected a different tab they also “lost” whatever was on their clipboard so they couldn’t do the usual thing of selecting a cell in the sheet where they wanted to paste something when the “Select destination and press ENTER or choose paste” message appeared at the bottom, because this message disappeared when they selected a new sheet.

There was obviously some script being triggered when they selected this sheet and, if you carry out any operation on a sheet before you get chance to paste your information in, then that chance goes begging.

Unfortunately this particular workbook was one they’d inherited from a user who had long-since left the company and the VBA Project had been locked with a password to protect the code… but no-one knew the password.

Of course there are solutions out there which you can download or buy but, if you’re already comfortable with VBA (otherwise why would you want to get in there to fix things?) then here’s an easy solution which works for all versions of Excel, both 32 bit and 64 bit.

https://stackoverflow.com/a/27508116

Make sure you click the link (or scroll down the page) to see the corresponding code for 64 bit versions of Excel (you need to use the code which applies to your version).

Credit for this solution goes to Duc Thanh Nguyen.

The basic instructions are that you copy the code given into a new workbook, save that with whatever file name you want, then leave the workbook open.

Switch back to your workbook with VBA password protection enabled and click on the Developer tab, then Macros, and choose to run the macro called, simply, “unprotected” which should pop up a nice friendly message like this:

VBA Project is unprotected message box

Cropping & converting MP4 Files to other video formats

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170715-125101

I recently had a small success which made me go “yeh!” and I happened to find this neat intro to a 1960 western serial featuring my name which kind of summed up how I was feeling at the time :D

Download video: MP4 format | Ogg format | WebM format

The problem was that I could only download the full episode in MP4 format so I needed to crop the video just to get the intro into a much smaller file.

Not being one for downloading over-hyped and bloated software I remembered I had a very good little MP4 Joiner (to stitch mp4 files together) on my computer so went looking to see if they had a splitter too - and so they did:

http://www.mp4joiner.org/en/

The joiner and the splitter are now bundled together in one installation file called Mp4Tools, but they work great and are simplicity itself to work out how to use them.

Just one word of warning - while the latest file you can download at the above link installs and works just fine I did have a problem opening the splitter application when I tried to install it on my old Windows XP computer, so I installed the older version 3.0 of the software on that machine, and that worked without a hitch.

In case you have any trouble running the latest version of the sofware you can find the older versions here. Just choose the version 3.0 EXE file and you should be ok:

https://www.videohelp.com/software/MP4Joiner/old-versions

Now that I have the intro of my video nicely cropped I can either make and animated GIF of it or share it on the web, as I’ve done here, but I needed to convert it to a couple of extra formats in order to ensure that the video played in as many browsers as possible.

The formats I needed were .webm and .ogv (OGG format), and instructions for embedding the videos after first uploading the files to your web space can be found here:

http://camendesign.com/code/video_for_everybody

However, you don’t need to really understand how to do this as you can save much time by using the handy code generator which they’ve provided here:

http://v4e.thewikies.com/

In order to covert my MP4 file into these 2 formats I used the following online converter which was quick and very easy to use:

http://video.online-convert.com/

The above website has converters for all sorts of different types of file (e.g. Office documents too), so it’s well worth bookmarking.

Drawing version comparison made easy

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170711-120251

Back in the olden days (when the internet was in short trousers) I used to create animated GIFs for my web pages using a great little program called Microsoft GIF Animator.

It’s somehow gratifying to learn that this great and tiny application is still available and runs flawlessly on my 64 Bit Windows 7 computer and I recently used it to compare old and new versions of a drawing, to easily see what’s been changed…

Using an animated GIF to compare drawing versions

Of course, this technique can be used for may other purposes - and it’s really just a variation on how astronomers use a blink comparator to detect movement of celestial bodies through the relatively fixed background of stars.

Microsoft GIF Animator is a single standalone file - no installation required - which is very easy to use. The hard work is getting your comparison files to be the same size and have the features all line up, but this is quite easy to do when working with drawings.

You can download the file here and also see some basic instructions, but the program comes with a built-in help file which which tell you all you need to know to get started.

Also here is a web page with an easy to follow tutorial:

http://gwanderson.server101.com/Computer101/gifAnimate.htm

Animated GIFs aren’t difficult to do, and you don’t need to use some “magic” online generator to make them because this old Microsoft program will let you create some very complex animations, once you get to know it.

Add a new FlatPress Blog in Open Live Writer

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160121-165110

imageOpen Live Writer is the new open source version of Microsoft’s wonderful blogging tool Windows Live Writer, and users of the latter will feel VERY at home with the new open source version (as it’s pretty much the same thing!).

In my previous post I gave you my first impression of it - there was a slight hiccup when I tried to set it up with my first blog account, but here is how to add another blog account once you’re up and running. [Read More…]

Live Writer is now Open Source

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160120-174435

imageWindows Live Writer is/was a great blogging tool but Microsoft haven’t really supported it for some time now, so thanks to them for allowing it to become open source so it can be developed by the large community of users who love it to bits.

This is my first post using Open Live Writer on FlatPress and it was relatively easy to set up, but not so straightforward as it could have been… so here’s what FlatPress users may* need to know in order to get it working. [Read More…]

How to repair/replace target paths in multiple desktop shortcuts

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry151215-142555

Shortcuts Search And Replace just saved me loads of time when I moved a whole folder structure from one computer to another, leaving me with hundreds of shortcuts all pointing to the wrong place.

It was simple to use (the program is self-contained so there’s no installation required) and I found and replaced a matching pattern in the Target Paths of about 350 shortcuts in less than a minute - fantastic, and well worth my small donation which went winging it’s way back to the author once I’d tried it out.

In addition to replacing a matching pattern in the target path this program will also check for dead links - it found 8 “potential troubles” with my shortcuts and flagged them with a helpful yellow warning triangle in the search results preview (a useful break in the process) so I could skip them during the replace operation.

Just one tip: for quickest results run this program directly on the machine where your shortcuts are stored - it will still work across a network, but it works a lot slower that way.

During my search on how to do this I saw lot’s of people struggling to write complex scripts of their own to achieve the same thing, but look no further as this little tool gets my full seal of approval:

http://jacquelin.potier.free.fr/ShortcutsSearchAndReplace/

Screenshot:

Shortcuts Search And Replace Interface

How to add folder comments in Windows 7

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry151103-120033

Adding a description to a folder so you can easily see what that folder contains is one of the greatest features that Microsoft have left out. It was possible using Windows XP by using a 3rd party program called HobComment and there’s a bit more information about this in my earlier post on this subject here:

How to restore file tooltip popups in Windows 7

Sadly this doesn’t seem to work under Windows 7 but it can be used WITH Windows 7 - meaning that any comments created by HobComment can be viewed on ANY Windows 7 machine (they show up in the native Windows Explorer “Comments” field, if you choose to display that) - which is actually an improvement on XP as the only way to see those comments previously was by having HobComment installed on your machine: other network users couldn’t see them.

I have the option of either using an XP machine on my network, or Windows Virtual PC on my Win7 laptop (running virtual XP) and I have HobComment running there.

This is read from a Desktop.ini file which HobComment creates in the folder. I’ve tried just copying one of these to a new folder and editing it with a new folder description but that doesn’t work - I need to go into an XP machine running HobComment and confirm it there so it can do whatever magic it does to make it appear.

The text in the Desktop.ini file is simply 2 lines like this:

[.ShellClassInfo]
Infotip=YOUR FOLDER DESCRIPTION HERE

I’m sure someone out there must be able to glue all of this together somehow and make something similar to HobComment for Windows 7. Whoever you are “good luck, we’re all counting on you”!

How to migrate Windows user profile settings to another account

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150607-000408

User Profile Wizard 3.9 by ForensiT is a simple to use tool to migrate your Windows user profile from one account to another. I used it on a computer with multiple accounts which I decided I just wanted one account left, but wanted to use all of the settings (desktop, programs list, etc.) from one of the other accounts. This program did the job - easily.

For more information and to download this great little program (the Personal Edition of User Profile Wizard is free to download) click below:

http://www.forensit.com/domain-migration.html

Excel 2010 Solutions to the Clipboard Cannot Be Emptied Problem

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150514-124113

In Excel 2010 you may run into an annoying problem trying to copy things to the clipboard:

clipboard-cannot-be-emptied

The solution which worked for me was to open the Windows Snipping tool:

Start > All Programs > Accessories > Snipping Tool

then click the “Options” button and uncheck “Always copy snips to the clipboard”, then close the Snipping Tool again.

Credit for this tip goes to user dawsopd at the MrExcel.com forum - you can also find a few other suggestions there if this doesn’t work for you:

http://www.mrexcel.com/forum/excel-questions/506582-excel-2010-pop-up-message-clipboard-cannot-emptied.html

Here are some other things you can try - I must admit that I still got the message occasionally after trying the fix I mentioned above, but the first solution on the following page (simply press the Esc key to deselect any cells which were already selected when you try to copy another cell) seemed to also work for me.

Fix for Cannont Empty the Clipboard in Office (yeah, I know it’s spelt wrong… but that’s how it is)

How to restore file tooltip popups in Windows 7

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry150320-164842

Having finally been forced to use Windows 7 on my computer at work I was faced with the loss of a couple of handy features which I’d become accustomed to in Windows XP.

One such problem concerned the apparent inability to show more than the barest of information in the little popup you get when you hover your mouse cursor over a file in Windows Explorer in Windows 7.

InfoTip balloon in Windows XP Actually that’s only partially true - it still works for local files (e.g. files on your own hard drive) but for files viewed on a network drive - whether mapped to drive letters of not - you only see the file type, last modified date, and it’s size, none of which is really worth the effort of showing the InfoTip in the first place (you can turn the feature off in folder options).

However it IS possible to get all of the extra information that might be stored in the File Properties (e.g. the document title, subject, and comment) by making a simple change to the registry. Here’s an example of how it looks in Windows 7 - you can see there how useful it is to show more information than you can easily display in the columns to the right:

InfoTip balloon in Windows 7 Note that you must have administrative rights to the computer you’re working on in order to make this change.

WARNING! It is also assumed that you are familiar with the Windows Registry and are happy about taking the risk that you could seriously screw your day up if you do something wrong in there. If not then stop right here and go fetch someone who is. For this reason the instructions below are written with less detail than I would normally provide.

If you’re not confident about doing this then please stop right here!

Otherwise, here’s how to do it:

1) Click on the windows button (normally at the bottom left of your screen) and then type “regedit” in the “Search programs and files” box, then hit return.

2) RIGHT click once on the regedit.exe file you should see in the box above the search box and choose “Run as administrator”. REMEMBER - don’t try this unless you know you have administrative rights to the computer - if you know you can install new programs, then you’re probably going to be ok - if not, then you’ll probably be wasting your time doing what comes next because Regedit won’t let you save your changes after all your efforts.

3) Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREClasses* and add the following to the end of the existing values in both InfoTip and QuickTip:

;System.Title;System.Subject;System.Comment

Type (or copy and paste) everything in blue - don’t forget the semi-colon at  the beginning of the line as that’s the “follow on” from the entries which you’ll already find there.

The reason you need to change it in both keys is that Windows will prioritise “QuickTip” over “InfoTip” when you hover over a network file. Microsoft did that in case you are viewing files over a slow network connection, so it’s useful to know you can make that little tweak if your computer slows to a crawl trying to display the popup information.

In some cases (for local files) I also needed to change the InfoTip value in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTSystemFileAssociations - for instance, for my Word docs (my VBA only generates 2003 versions of Excel and Word files) I needed to make the same change to the InfoTip in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTSystemFileAssociations.doc

4) Close regedit.

It should be enough, at this point, to simply close and re-open Windows Explorer in order to see the effect of your changes, or you might want to log off and back on to Windows just to make sure.

My other problem (I’m sure I’ll find more - I won’t even mention my hatred of ribbon menus) is the sad loss of the Folder Description column I could add which allowed me to add a comment to a folder using a truly excellent program called HobComment. While this may still work for 32-bit versions of Windows it certainly doesn’t in 64-bit editions but, fortunately, all is not lost!

Folder comments in Windows XP

In my case I still have my old Windows XP PC connected to the network so I simply access this via RealVNC and add my comments there. Displaying the folder description in a column in Windows 7 is actually a piece of cake - simply right click on the column headings in Windows Explorer and add “Comments” column :) Curiously that trick DOESN’T work in XP, but who cares? Here’s how I’ve got it looking in Windows 7:

Folder comments in Windows 7In case you don’t have an XP machine which you can use to add your folder comments then all is not lost because you can run XP on your Windows 7 computer in order to run old programs like HobComment, by using Microsoft’s very own Windows Virtual PC. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m sure it will work.

 

Happy computing!

A quick fix for Outlook 2010 not opening when you do not have permissions to access the outlook.pst file

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry141226-102449

For anyone who has run into a message when trying to open Outlook - this applies specifically to version 2010 but it may happen with other versions - which goes something like “The set of folders cannot be opened. You do not have permissions to open the outlook.pst file” (the message may vary) then here’s one very quick fix you should try before anything else. [Read More…]

Task Time Counter

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry141205-170816

If you frequently switch between one job or project and another then this Task Time Counter which runs in Excel might be just what you’re looking for.

It’s very simple to use - just click on the Switch Task button to bring up your list of jobs and select one by clicking on the drop down arrow.

image[Read More…]

Dead pixel on your screen getting you down?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry140913-073852

A dead pixel on your screen is something which most people live with until it’s time to get a new monitor or computer, but there are a few things you could try to fix a dead (or stuck) pixel. [Read More…]

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.

Support our caregiving

Support our caregiving

If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing then please consider dropping a few pennies in the jar to help us to take care of our disabled son who contracted encephalitis in 2007 at the age of 6 and who is now confined to a wheelchair. He is getting bigger as his mother and I get older, imagine that, please. Every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.

Thank you.