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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:



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:


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.


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”.


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.


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:


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:


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.


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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.

3D - It’s hot out there today

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170704-151546

A hot 'n' sunny day in Tbilisi

TOO HOT! Looking better for the weekend…


3D - Midsummer Evening in Tbilisi

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170630-014059

Midsummer evening in Tbilisi

Nice late evening clouds in TbilisiMidsummer evening clouds in TbilisiLate evening midsummer clouds in Tbilisi

A Squadron of Swallows

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170628-220417

I’m not sure whether a collective noun for swallows exists, but a “squadron” seems appropriate.

You’d probably appreciate that more if you lived at “squadron-height” and have them whistling past your head every two minutes when you stand on the balcony.

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…]

No more war no more war no more war

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170620-013718

This is the original version of the song which helped make a star out of Sade:

Timmy Thomas - Why Can’t We Live Together

Where are all the protest songs now.. and I mean protests about the real stuff going down in this world, and the real causes?

Hint: it’s not Donald Trump, muslims, or “equality”. It is however agenda-driven and media-led… whether those sock puppets who masquerade as journalists know it or not.

Eleven years ago

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170618-132536

Duke Gildenberg was on television…

Duke Gildenberg on British TV 10th June 2006 at 18:37 GMT

So, why was Mr Gildenberg on TV? Where does he fit in to world history?

image When Joe Kittinger made his world-record jump from 102,800 feet on Aug. 16, 1960, as part of Project Excelsior, launch couldn’t even take place until one man gave thumbs up. “Our forecasts were provided by one of the best meteorologists in the Air Force…: Bernard ‘Duke’ Gildenberg,” Kittinger wrote in “Come Up and Get Me” (UNM Press/2010, with Craig Ryan). “If Duke said go, you went, or you’d wonder why you hadn’t.”


Bernard David Gildenberg or “Duke,” as he was known in New Mexico and at NASA, was born in Hazelton, Pa., in 1925. He was brought up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and had lived in La Luz and Tularosa for the last 60 years of his life. He was a graduate of New York University and was in the Air Force during World War II, stationed in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

Mr Gildenberg died on the 2nd April, 2013, of natural causes.

Food Mixer and Back Door - June 2006

3D - Here come the pirates!

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170617-212815


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…]

The earth moved for me last night…

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170608-064346

…and a few other people in the office said they also felt the little earthquake which hit Georgia last night.

Not much to report - it caused a few things we had hanging up on the wall to rock to and fro for a while afterwards - but if you weren’t looking at them you’d probably miss them. My Darlo bottle opener makes for a great earthquake detector!


A Spring Storm in Tbilisi

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170519-174209

It just got very very dark outside my office, with a fair bit of lightning.

I took about 150 photos and this was the best I could do!

A Spring Storm in Tbilisi

How to create an alphabetical list in Excel

Permalink: http://paul.us2uk.eu/?x=entry:entry170331-151659

There didn’t seem to be a way to create a custom list in Excel which would allow you to put letters of the alphabet down one column (unless you typed one in by hand for however many letters you want to go down to) so here’s a formula I dreamt up to do just that.


This will work in any column and will keep incrementing the lettering well past “Z” (which is a limitation of some other formulae I found to do the same job).

My formula will only work if you start the sequence in the first row because it works by setting the column number as the current row number - so row 1 will be “A”, row 26 will be “Z”, row 5000 will be “GJH”, and so on.

If you need to start your list in any row other than row 1 then you’ll either need to adapt the formula somehow (good luck with that - but please let me know if you have any success) or simply create a list starting in row 1 on a new blank worksheet then the list and paste it as values (so you just get A, B, C, etc. instead of the formula) in the cell where you want your list to start. The keyboard shortcut I use to paste values is Alt-E,S,V., or you can do it the standard way - see the help section for your version of Excel for instructions if you get stuck.

The beauty of this is that the exact same fomula work in any cell and in any column.


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…]

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.