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This blog is a cross between a scrapbook and a diary. I hope you find something here of interest. If you’d like to keep up with things as I see them then you can subscribe to my news feed by clicking the icon below:

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Please note that any reviews/recommendations are based solely on my own experience and does not constitute a guarantee that you will have the same experience. Please do your own research before parting with any money - the risk is all yours!

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How to switch to Outlook Web App (OWA) Lite version

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry171013-125337

For some reason (go ask Microsoft!) clicking the attachment button in Outlook Web App often does nothing - it’s supposed to open a page where you can choose and attach files, but it doesn’t.

There is a  very cryptically named option to switch to the Lite version of OWA so that attachments will work, but the option is hidden.

When logged in to OWA visit the following link in your browser:

https://owa.rsl.az/owa/?ae=Options&t=General

Under “Accessibility” make sure that the “Use the blind and low vision experience” box is checked, then click the “Save” button at the bottom right.

Then log out of OWA, close then restart your browser, and log in again.

How to switch to OWA Lite

Installing Silverlight might also work.

Adding hours up in Excel

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170904-120009

One of the common uses for Excel is time recording but it can get a little confusing when you try to add hours up to get a grand total because, in normal practice, Excel will apply the same cell formatting to the cell with your total in as was applied to the times shown in the individual rows.

Why this is a problem is demonstrated in the following example - while you can probably get the right answer you’re looking for on each individual row, this is because the number of hours is less than 24 but, when you start adding these up (and go over 24 hours) Excel will start counting each 24 hour block of hours as 1 day, and your cells may not be formatted to display those days.

This is what happened below and you can see the custom formats I used to display exactly the same total in different ways. Remember that you can quickly access the custom formatting options by selecting the range of cells you want to format and then pressing Ctrl+1 on your keyboard.

image

Just remember to use an “h” in square brackets like this if you want Excel to treat the cell as the total number of hours (and not days and hours). If the format you’re looking for isn’t displayed in the list of formats then simply type it in yourself in the “Type:” box, and click “OK”.

image

If what you’re looking for is decimal hours (i.e. 72 point five hours instead of 72 hours and 30 minutes) then you need to change the format to a simple number format (e.g.

image

More Curves in Adobe Acrobat

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170831-161319

Learning how to draw nice curves in Acrobat opens up the program to new uses and better presentation.

Here’s a sample of my morning’s work:

Nicely drawn curves in Adobe Acrobat

All of the curves shown above were drawn using the polygon line tool - the red ones using the technique I describe here:

http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170627-023056

The green curves could have been done the same way but I actually did them freehand - not perfect, but good enough…

More nice curves in Adobe Acrobat

Incidentally, a lot of copying and pasting was employed in the production of this drawing and I’ve found it pays to spend a little time drawing guidelines where you want everything to go - it helps immensely when you want to copy the curves to another location if nearly identical elements are accurately positioned, relatively to each other.

Simply delete the guidelines when you’re finished.

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.

How to make a Facebook Cover VIDEO

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170616-010936

For the lucky few (guinea pigs) Facebook have enabled a feature which allows users to upload a video to be used instead of a regular (static) cover photo.

This feature is still very much in its infancy but it was worthy of a little bit of experimentation, so this is how I created a short video animation for the Darlington FC Supporters Group Facebook page. [Read More…]

Windows 10 Update Freezing Computer

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161107-001648

Windows 10 Logo When a monster update came through and installed itself on our Windows 10 laptop,  aside from suddenly getting annoyed to death by “Cortana” (some stupid Microsoft “help thing”, I think - not asked for nor desired, anyway) the laptop - a Dell - just started freezing up after a few minutes of use.

If this happens to you (and you could care less about ditching Cortana) then try this first before tearing your hair out. [Read More…]

Epson ITS L1300 A3+ USB Printer works with TP-Link TL-WPS510U Wireless Print Server

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161028-041004

I think the title above is descriptive enough to answer the question which I’ve seen many people asking about this printer. We bought one for the office today along with a wireless print server not knowing whether we could get them to work together or not, but the answer is a resounding YES! [Read More…]

Fix for Windows 10 Can’t Connect To This Network

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161025-233719

The solution to this extremely annoying recurring problem which worked for me was this:

[Read More…]

Column A missing in Excel?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160922-232228

It sometimes happens that you open an Excel worksheet to find that one or more columns are missing - in the example below Column A has mysteriously disappeared - so what’s going on?

Well, before doing anything see if you can spot the difference between the following two images… they’re not identical and the difference is crucial to telling you why Column A is missing.

image

image

Did you spot the difference? Take a closer look at the horizontal scroll bar ↑

In the first picture it looks as though you can scroll to the left to see Column A - if nothing changes when you try to do this then Column A is simply hidden from view and there are a couple of ways you can unhide it again - either by moving your cursor to the line just to the left of the letter B in the column headers and seeing if it turns into a horizontal double arrow Excel Hidden Column Widener Cursorwith TWO vertical bars through it, like this,  indicating that there is something hidden there. When the cursor changes this way you can simply click on the line and drag it to the right to unhide the column, or you can type A1 in the Name Box (that’s the white box on the left, just above the column headers) and press the Enter key to go to that cell… even if it’s hidden. This is useful to know because you sometimes might want to check the contents of a cell in a hidden column without unhiding it, so this is how to do that. Once you’ve selected that cell you can then go to Format… Column… Unhide to make it appear (Office 2007+ key strokes Alt+O…C…U).

But what if none of the above works?

In fact it’s quite possible to lose Column A without it being hidden in the usual manner at all, so no amount of trying to unhide it will do any good. What then?

The reason why this may happen to you is if your worksheet’s horizontal scroll bar is fully to the left - this indicates that you have FREEZE PANES activated on your worksheet. In this case all you need to do is unfreeze the panes from the Window menu (Office 2007+ key strokes Alt+W…F) and you will be able to scroll to Column A.

How to return the text before or after the first or last space in an Excel cell value

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160830-163100

If you ever run into a situation where you want to get rid of everything but the text before or after either the first or last space in a cell value then here’s a great formula to do just that.

The formula looks complicated but, as with all complicated Excel formulae, it all makes perfect sense once you break it down. [Read More…]

Fix for no audio/sound via HDMI

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160829-132605

I have a recurring problem with my media PC dropping the HDMI audio output to my big Sony TV - and I keep forgetting how to fix it (because it’s quite a simple fix but it’s not that obvious how to do it).

Why this happens is anyone’s guess but, for some reason, the TV gets disconnected or disabled somehow - AND THEN HIDDEN in the choice of speakers when you click in the speaker icon in the system tray (where the clock is).

Here’s where I refreshed my memory but, although this says it is for Windows 10 it does also work just the same in Windows 7, which is what I have installed. You may find some additional solutions there, if this doesn’t work for you:

https://www.drivereasy.com/knowledge/fix-hdmi-monitor-has-no-sound-after-windows-10-upgrade/

I knew I had to right-click somewhere and get the Plackback Devices panel to show my TV as an option but I couldn’t remember where. Well, all you need to do is RIGHT click on a BLANK AREA of the panel (right-click on the speaker icon then choose “Playback devices” to show the panel, then see the picture below) and then make sure that both “Show Disabled Devices” and “Show Disconnected Devices” are checked.

This continues to solve the problem for me. I hope this has helped you too!

image

Find and Replace Line Breaks in Excel

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160812-105344

One of the most frequent things I forget how to do is the replacement of line breaks in Excel cells. You can put a line break in an Excel cell simply by pressing Alt+Enter while you are typing in your data, but sometimes you want to replace some of the text PLUS the line break.

To do this is equally simple (once you know how) just by entering Ctrl+J so say you have a cell with the following data with a line break in it:

ABC
XYZ

and you want to either replace or even remove the top or bottom line you would go to your Find & Replace dialogue box (press Ctrl+H) to bring this up and then enter either of the following in the “Find what:” box…

To remove the top line type “ABC” then press Ctrl+J (it will not actually show anything because the Find what box is only one line high, and you might just be able to make out the top of the insertion point I-bar cursor flashing below the A), then type in whatever you want in the “Replace with:” box - or just leave it blank if you want to delete that top line.

To remove the bottom line first press Ctrl+J THEN type “XYZ”. In this case you might not see anything when you type the “XYZ” except (again) the flashing top of the cursor moving along as you type the letters on what a line which is hidden by the restricted height of the “Find what:” box.

Thanks to Debra Dalgleish for this excellent tip ever at her equally excellent Contextures Blog…

http://blog.contextures.com/archives/2013/05/28/find-and-replace-line-breaks-in-excel/

What’s THAT doing in Word 2010?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160329-125122

Blast from the past error message in Word 2010

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 install a network printer WITHOUT administrator privileges

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160107-173447

There are lots of suggestions out there in “IT Professional Land” about how to provide your common or garden computer user with just enough privileges to allow them to install a printer.

The problem is that often it’s the computer user themselves who need to know how to do this WITHOUT involving their IT people who, more often than not, end up asking the question on a web forum and get mixed up in all sorts of conversations (and sometime arguments) about which is the best way to do it - wouldn’t it be great if there was a trick to it all? Well, try this one… [Read More…]

Review - Need for Speed: Collectors Series - Includes Underground 1, 2 and Most Wanted (PC DVD)

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160107-020643

Still great games but beware that Underground “needs help” to run on Windows 10

imageBeware that only Underground 2 and Most Wanted will work on Windows 10 - “Underground” appears to be too old for Microsoft’s liking and falls under the growing number of old games which use SafeDisc DRM (Digital Rights Management). Due to vulnerabilities with SafeDisc Microsoft did not include support for it in Windows 10, and have also disabled it via updates in previous versions of Windows (though there is a workaround to get your games to play in Windows 8/7 & Vista).

In case anyone has a problem installing one of the games after installing Most Wanted then you need to rename the Most Wanted game exe file in your Program Files folder from Speed.exe to something else (e.g. SpeedMW.exe) before trying to install the other game, otherwise the Underground installation program thinks that you already have Underground installed, showing you a “Play” option instead of “Install”. Just one star off for that little inconvenience.

No problem with the quality of the product supplied - excellent on that front, just beware if you have Windows 10 then you’ll only be able to play 2 of the 3 games without a little work (all three will install - but only 2 will play) unless you set your computer up to dual boot with (say) Windows XP to play your older games, or you hunt around for a no-cd crack (which is illegal, but it seems as if that’s what Microsoft are forcing genuine owners of these older games to do). If you do go down that route then you’ll probably have some success if you replace your installed game EXE file with for one suitable for NFS Underground Euro Version 1.4, if you bought this set from amazon uk, like I did* ;)

* note that although this is a “No CD” crack it DID ask me to insert Disc 2 into my computer, though when I did this it seems as though the DRM check was avoided and the game then played as normal.

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.