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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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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 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.

MS Word - Table Continued on Next Page

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170628-173632

I frequently find myself in the situation where a table needs to break onto the next page but there’s no in-built method (that I can find) to display a message informing the reader that the table they’re looking at has some more rows, and that they’d better scroll down a bit to see them, so this is how to add a “Table continued on next page” message in Microsoft Word (or any other Word processor).

Microsoft Word - how to add a "Table continued on next page" caption to a table break

[Read More…]

This is how to draw a curve in Adobe Acrobat

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

For everyone out there who’s been searching for the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and how to draw a curve in Adobe Acrobat, then this is for you.

Of course, Acrobat is not a vector drawing program so there is no actual curve tool included in all the versions I’ve encountered, so how did I do this?

Needs curves!  Nice curves!

Yes, there IS a bit of trickery involved but the above curves were drawn very quickly, and using the normal drawing tools which you’ll find in Acrobat Professional/X. [Read More…]

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…]

Formulae for Roots & Powers in Excel

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170304-003048

If you’ve ever wondered what the little “hat” symbol (^) is for, generally above the number 6 on your keyboard, then your further enlightenment is at hand.

It has a number of uses, for instance you can use ^p in the search & replace function in MS Word to find and replace paragraph markers - useful when you need to remove extraneous line breaks when you paste a block of text in which doesn’t format correctly.

However the ^ symbol in Excel is used to denote powers so, if you want to find the square or cube of a number, rather than use the more cumbersome POWER worksheet function you can just use n^2 or n^3 to find the square or cube of a number.

Here’s how to use that in a formula. [Read More…]

TP-Link MR3420 3G/3.75G Wireless Router

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161210-182923

TP-Link TR-MR3420I bought a TP-Link TR-MR3420 to replace my aging D-Link DIR-300 router which was beginning to play up.

I’d been looking at the Unifi wireless modems which seem very good (from a first hand account I received) but a bit more expensive than this model, which has the added bonus of allowing you to use it to beam the internet signal from an EVDO USB modem around the house. As we have one of these sticks (we use it as back-up in case we lose our normal connection, and also to access the internet if any of us goes away somewhere) this seemed to fit our needs perfectly… and so it proved. [Read More…]

Excel Functions - Version Compatibility

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161117-162809

While working on a spreadsheet today I was using the ISERROR function to test if a VLOOKUP formula returned a value and, if it did, return the value otherwise display nothing - instead of the usual #N/A error notification.

The usual syntax for this formula begins “=IF(ISERROR(VLOOKUP(…”.

I happened to notice that Excel 2010 (the version I use at work) offered up “IFERROR” as a possible function as soon as I typed the “IF” and, indeed, this allows me to write slightly shorter formula. However this is not backwards compatible with Excel 2003 which I use elsewhere so I avoided using it.

For anyone faced with a situation where they have a spreadsheet containing lots of instances where the a formula contains “IFERROR” then help is at hand at the following link - untested, but I’m sure it’ll work. I’ve bookmarked it here because it looks like quite a useful site.

http://www.professionalexcel.com/2011/06/replace-iferror-with-ifiserror/

There are obviously a few more functions which were added in later versions of Excel which you should avoid using if you don’t want your spreadsheet to fail when someone opens it in Excel 2003 (which I much prefer!). The other one I avoid for this reason is “SUMIFS” (I use “SUMPRODUCT” instead) but here’s a useful list of all Excel functions showing which versions they are compatible with - plus a useful description of each..

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ztUAhgAghKn2wNih7-QgMbSAKfux4w_qkAcJdD82bLU/edit

Here’s the same thing downloaded for posterity as an XLSX file

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…]

Using the current row or column number in a lookup formula

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry161017-131301

I was working on a monster spreadsheet which contained over 2000 rows of data spread across 54 columns when I discovered that the spreadsheet I’d been given had about 1000 items (i.e. 1000 rows) missing. I eventually received a revised spreadsheet with the missing items so I was now faced with the task of transferring all of the data which I’d meticulously entered in the original sheet, into the new one.

While it was quite simple to select all of the rows and columns in the original sheet and give it a name (using “Define Name” on the Formulas Toolbar), then use this in a VLOOKUP formula to fill in the cells on the new sheet which had corresponding cells with data on the old sheet, because I had 54 columns of data this would have meant manually changing the column number each time I used the formula in the next column along.

Here’s how to avoid having to do that. [Read More…]

Merging cells in Excel can lead to formula errors

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160930-180600

As I’ve just discovered after so many years of using Excel if you merge a group of cells and then use a lookup (I only ever use VLOOKUP but it will probably apply to HLOOKUP too) to return the value from that merged group of cells, then you run the risk of getting the wrong result.

Here’s why, and why you should NEVER use merged cells in part of your spreadsheet which you might (one day) want to look up date from via a formula…. [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.

What’s the crake?

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry160901-190400

I feel somewhat vindicated in my stance that the correct term for “good banter” in Ireland and Britain is “crack”, not “craik”, and not “craic”.

http://www.scotland.com/forums/language/15676-craik-crack.html

It seems that the correct spelling was and will always be “crack”.

The so-called Gaelic spelling (craic) is a fairly recent introduction and is not a Gaelic word at all, it is purely an attempt to make a Gaelic-sounding word out of the original - perhaps because of the narcotic connotation of the correct spelling or maybe just because too many people from the old country want to sound like they’ve just stepped off the steamer from Queenstown.

I’m sure it will continue to be used in all of the thousands of “Irish Bars” which are dotted around the world and will, eventually, be pronounced “crake”.

So there you have it.

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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.