Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

MS Office now available for iPads + More

Perhaps.. maybe.. iPads might be a little more useful now..

* Microsoft Office for iPad sets the gold standard for tablet productivity

It took four years, but Microsoft has finally released full-featured Office apps for the iPad. As expected, the new Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps are free to install but require an Office 365 subscription to unlock the full set of features. Here’s what you can expect.” Read more..

But, things ain’t all roses..

* Office for iPad is free, but it’ll cost you

More and more large software vendors (like Microsoft and Intuit) are making their iPad apps exclusive to subscribers of their SaaS offerings. I don’t like subscription software and it’s a troubling trend.Read more..

[it is a trend I won’t be buying into, and will not recommend. Remember the Adobe break in? But, yes, the handwriting is on the wall..]

More tech: 10 tech things we didn’t know a week ago

Behind on the news and hungry for more? Here’s what we learned this week — including the ‘easter eggs’ in early Microsoft code, and how the U.S. will treat Bitcoin.” See slideshow

[the comments are worth a look as well.]

Sunday Beauty a day early:

amazing sky photo

Click on image to see more by this artist (reco’d)

“Amazing Sky” by Kyrre Gjerstad, courtesy of Flickr Commons

Today’s quote:What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Copyright 2007-2014 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.
And please, never forget – one person can make a difference.
Find a way to make someone’s day today.
(Best advice I ever heard? Don’t sweat the small stuff.)

March 29, 2014 Posted by | advice, Apple, computers, Digital Images, iPhone, Microsoft, MS Office, News, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Add Images and Color to Your Holiday Letters

Word Tricks Makes Letters Merrier (updated for ‘the Ribbon’)

It is the Holiday time of year. (Is it just me, or did 2013 pass-by rather quickly?) Each year at this time, I post this article which demonstrates a few tricks to make your Season’s Greetings letters more joyous, and your documents more visually interesting. Many of you already know the A-B-C basics of manipulating fonts and formatting, and so this will be review.. and loyal readers may remember this one..

Tip of the day: Add some festivity to your documents with fonts and color. MS Word has a lot of features and options built into it that allows for some very creative elements to be added to your correspondence, and is not at all limited to cold, “professional” documents. I’ll use Word for this demo, but you can do this in most text editors, and e-mail programs. Today I’m going to use a hypothetical holiday greeting letter to show how to add some fun. By default, Word sets the font to Calibri at 11 “points” in height. I have typed in my text, to get things started, and will demonstrate using this letter’s “opener”. As it is a header, I have “centered” the text. WD1 As you can see, this font and text does not quite convey the joy and cheer and “best wishes” I am hoping to express. In fact, this may as well say, “Memo from Giganti Corp.” Yawn! So first thing I’m going to do is ‘tweak’ the font style, and make some word bigger (louder), to express a less formal tone. WD2 I “highlighted” Season’s Greetings, and used the Font drop-down arrow and selected a cursive font– Lucida Handwriting (explore Word’s various fonts, and find the one you like best). I set the point size to 36. I repeated the process on the second sentence, but set the type smaller.. only 18. I think you’ll agree, this is much more “friendly” than the default’s look. But this is just not Festive enough! Let’s use some color and improve things some more. WD3 I have again “highlighted” season’s greetings to select this font, and then clicked the Font Color button on the Home tab. I then clicked on the little red box in the color-picker. Now season’s greetings is red. I want to alternate letters in green, so I hold down the Ctrl key and use my mouse to “select” every other letter. WD4 I didn’t really like the greens available on the color-picker, so I clicked on “More Colors”…. 5.jpg … and selected a green that contrasted nicely with the red– as the box in the lower right corner shows. This is the result of these steps. wd5a Much more jolly! But, something’s missing… WD5 Let’s add one more thing– a picture of a candy cane. I went on the Internet and found a Royalty-free graphic (though a piece of Clip Art would do just as nicely) and… wd6 Voila! I could ‘go crazy’, and get carried away with adding things here… but I hope you will be able to see by this little demonstration — using only two of Word’s functions — that you are limited only by your own creativity, and that it’s easy to personalize and ’spice up’ your documents. (I should have matched the greens… but ran out of time.. sorry.)

*     *     *

Today’s quote: How ’bout some more Longfellow? “The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories. Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

December 15, 2013 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, MS Office, MS Word, tech, word processors | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opening old Word files after Office SP3

I look forward to the release of “Service Packs”. (Here is how Microsoft describes a Service Pack: “Service packs are the means by which product updates are distributed. Service packs may contain updates for system reliability, program compatibility, security, and more. All of these updates are conveniently bundled for easy downloading.“) I look forward to SP’s not only because they roll several Updates into one download, but Service Packs also (sometimes) include new products/features — such as, XP SP2 added the Security Center and a firewall.

And besides… I’m a “security guy.” I am all for getting patches (aka “Updates”) and have written many advice articles urging folks to thwart hacker vulnerability exploits and to keep their software updated; most recently, https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/11/23/learn-to-love-the-pop-up/. If there’s a patch, I say “get it!”

Recently Microsoft released the third Service Pack for Office 2003 (SP3), and SP3 makes some rather significant changes to how Office 2003 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) behave: namely, it shuts off backwards compatibilty and you can no longer open (or Save) files saved in older versions of Office. Whoa!

What this means to you is, if you are tootling along with an older Version of Word (let’s just say, Word XP as a ‘for instance’) and you send a document to someone using a more current version (which most people are), they may not be able to open your file. Or, if you need to open a file you created some time ago with an old version of Excel (say, an old tax-expense spreadsheet), maybe from an old backup, but you have since upgraded to Office 2003, you will not be able to read your own file.
You will get, instead, an error message.

In short, Office will no longer do what it used to do, and you (may) have lost access to your own files.

My initial reaction to this was incredulity. A hallmark of Microsoft IS backwards compatibility (In fact, BC is a big reason why Vista failed to deliver all that was promised; they just couldn’t deliver the new features AND be backwards compatible.), and here they are –for the first time that I know of– turning off existing compatibility! And, they aren’t (really) asking our permission to do so, either.. but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

The reason MS did this is for security, (Hey! I heard that.) and says this only affects really old file types, like pre-Word 97, (though I have read differently in various geek forums) and older Corel Draw, Lotus, Quattro, and dBase II files. And Microsoft points out that this change is the same as what was written as the defaults for Office 2007. So this probably will not affect you until you have some cause to dig out something you created a very long time ago.. but if it does:

Tip of the day: restore Office 2003’s ability to access old files only if it becomes necessary, and only restore the abilities you need. And then turn them off again.
Microsoft provides .reg file downloads to restore the functionality of certain areas of Office: use just the one you need. A .reg file modifies the Windows Registry (which is a serious issue) and so I highly recommend creating a System Restore point before making these types of changes. Close any open Office applications and…

1) Download the file to your desktop by choosing “Save” (do not “Open” or “Run”) when prompted, and selecting Desktop as the “Save file to…” location.
* To re-enable Word formats only, click here.
* To re-enable Excel formats only, click here.
* To re-enable PowerPoint formats only, click here.
* To re-enable CorelDraw formats only, click here.

2) Double-click on the new (download) .reg icon on your Desktop, and click on “Yes” to proceed.

3) Re-launch Word (or, Excel, or PowerPoint, as the case may be) and Open the old file(s) you need access to, and then “Save As” them to 2003 files (using the “Save As Type” drop-down arrow.)

4) Repeat the download/double-click procedure with the links below to re-enable the security shutdown.
* To re-block old Word formats only, click here.
* To re-block old Excel formats only, click here.
* To re-block old PowerPoint formats only, click here.
* To re-block old CorelDraw formats only, click here.

I feel compelled to mention to you (again) that another alternative is to use the Open Source suite of applications to access the old (and new) Microsoft Office files, and re-post it as..

Today’s free link: Open Office. From website: “OpenOffice.org is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite and an open-source project. Compatible with all other major office suites, the product is free to download, use, and distribute.”
*It is available in a “portable” version too.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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January 7, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, MS Word, PC, removing Updates, security, tech, Windows, word processors | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Cannot open attachment…help!

A frustrating error occurs when Windows does not recognize the type of file you are trying to open, that reads “Windows cannot open this file:”
error.JPG
It may help you to understand that what causes this is when the file was created with a program that is not installed on your machine. It does not mean the file is not Open-able.

Today’s topic was inspired by a college professor, who received two writing assignments from students as email attachments. [A brief aside: it is simply amazing what is available to us in the form of the e-classroom. If you have a crazy schedule, and there simple isn’t time to further your education, consider taking online courses. A good place to start looking is your local Junior College.] One student sent him a .mdi file and the other sent him a .docx file. When he tried to open them, he received the message shown above, and asked for my help in opening them.

Tip of the day: Use the Internet to identify attachment file types, and find out what it would take to open them. I mentioned in an earlier article, files are identified by a “dot-three-letters” file “extension” (for a more detailed description, click here). This tells your O/S what program created the file so that it can launch the same program to work with it. I will mention again; the place to go when you receive (or come across) a file extension you simply don’t recognize is a website called FILExt.

The professor had assigned a writing assignment, and since he has Microsoft Office and the lesser-known Word Perfect installed on his machine, he was surprised at his inability to open a text document (and doubly surprised when it happened twice). The second file — the .docx — I easily recognized as the new Word format. The new Microsoft Office 2007 suite has modernized, and uses a XML-based format now, and older versions (Office 97 – 2003) of Word will not recognize, or be able to Open, files of this type.
The solution, in this case was to (somehow) upgrade his Office suite to 2007, or ask the student to re-submit the document using Word 2007’s ability to Save As in the older format. I advised him to download and install the free 60-day trial of Office 2007, and to consider purchasing a license for it. (The download is the full suite; it just has a time-limited license.) By doing this, he would also be able to open the second file. [update: for more on Office 2007, and to download the free conversion toolkit, called a “Compatibility Pack” (for owners of older versions of Office), click here.]

I did not immediately recognize the .mdi file extension, and so (since I had it already open) entered “open .mdi” into Google’s search box. It turns out that the student had — instead of simply Save-ing the document — “printed” it to Word 2003’s ‘virtual printer’, Microsoft Document Image Writer. This tool is usually used in conjunction with a scanner, and allows for OCR. You don’t typically run across too many .mdi files…
The professor took my advice, and was able to open both documents using the newly installed Word 2007.

If you refer back to the error message shown above, you will see that by default Windows offer you a choice; allow it to search online for a way to open the file (this rarely works), or select a program — from the programs you have installed — to use to try to force it open (this also rarely works). It will not hurt you, and there is a chance of success, to go ahead and accept the first option.
And then go to FILExt.

Today’s free link: If you use IM and use multiple services… and you frequently use different computers… you should know about Meebo. Meebo allows you to use a web browser to log into and use AIM, Messenger, Yahoo, and GoogleTalk. Quick, simple, and easy… and nothing to install.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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October 17, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, MS Word, PC, tech, Windows, word processors | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment