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!
Looking for my world famous US to GB English spelling converter?
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…]
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…]
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.
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 with 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.
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:
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!
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:
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…
Open 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…]
Windows 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…]
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…]
Still great games but beware that Underground “needs help” to run on Windows 10
Beware 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.
A nice upgrade from Windows 7 - maybe not worthwhile if you have Windows 8
Apart from some niggles running games I actually quite like Windows 10 - not enough to give up on good old XP Pro on my own computer just yet, but I upgraded my son’s Windows 7 machine and much preferred it. I’ve never used Windows 8 but if you’re happy enough with that then you may as well stick with it - especially if you own a few older games such as NFS Underground which use a particular type of Digital Rights Management because Microsoft have blocked these games from running in Windows 10.
If you’re not a gamer then Windows 10 offers a familiar-looking interface with a Start button. I first installed the free version a few months ago and, now that most of the teething troubles seem to be sorted out, I bought this and just used the serial number to activate the version I already had installed - the nice looking USB stick with Win 10 on it is still in the box but I did install my current version from a USB stick and it was very easy.
Aside from removing the Activation watermark from the screen the activation key also unlocks the customisation options which let you choose a profile picture and set a folder of pictures as your desktop wallpaper, etc. We could probably could have got by without activating it, but I bought this as a present and it’s nice to see a nice watermark-free screen with everything working as it should.
Beware that Windows Media Player doesn’t seem to be included in Windows 10 but I just downloaded and installed Media Player Classic which is part of the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack, which is my own favourite.
I also installed Office 2003 on Windows 10 64 bit and it runs perfectly, as do all the other programs I’ve installed (IrfanView, 7-Zip, Windows Live Writer, Opera 12, to name but a few).
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:
But only a little. I create shortcuts using VBA all the time and - up till now - I thought that the only extra field which was possible to display information about the target was “Description”, so I was surprised to see a shortcut which I created manually (just in Windows Explorer) showing the title field from the target file. [Read More…]
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:
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”!
Occasionally you may receive a Folder In Use message such as “the action can’t be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program” when you try to rename or delete/move a folder in Windows 7.
Yes, pressing the Enter key in an Acrobat Text Box will create a blank line but, ever since about Acrobat Version 9 that blank line magically disappears when you either click outside of the text box or save the document.
Well done Adobe!
Fortunately you can get the blank line to stay there if you hold the CTRL key down as you press Enter to create it.
CTRL+Enter lets you create a blank line in Acrobat X, and have it stay there! It’s as simple as that.
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:
As one who knows just how easy it is to scrape web pages for email addresses it never ceases to amaze me how many people are unaware what they’re letting themselves in for by putting their email address on a web page.
I never do it myself but I was recently asked to do so by the owner of a new website I’m developing so I went looking for a way to help make those email addresses invisible to the kind of software programs I’ve used in the past, and found a simple text to image conversion script which displays an email address as an image, like this:
If you right click on the image above and inspect the image source address you’ll see that the email address itself is encoded so this will defeat most of the malicious robotic visitors to your site… though I’d still recommend that you NEVER put an email address on a web page, even like this, if you want to be 100% certain that your email address can’t be stolen and used in ways which could make your life a lot more difficult than it already might be.
As I develop most of my sites using FlatPress I wrote a neat little plugin to convert an email address to an image. This is how it works. [Read More…]
If you found anything on this site of use, interesting, or even mildly amusing please consider tipping a few pennies in the jar to help look after Georgi, to whom this blog is shamelessly dedicated.
Georgi contracted encephalitis and fell into a coma in the summer of 2007. He’s a strong boy and survived, but he suffered brain damage and still can’t walk or talk (well, not very well - but he does try). He’s growing all the time and every penny we collect goes towards his upkeep, and towards his future care requirements.