Tech – for Everyone

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

Microsoft Office 2010 Technology Guarantee

Buy Office 2007 Today, Get Office 2010 Free

Today I received notice, via Amazon, that for a limited time Microsoft is offering a free upgrade deal. Purchase, install, and activate a qualifying Office 2007 product between March 5, 2010, Office 2010 logoand September 30, 2010, and you’ll be eligible to download Office 2010 at no additional cost. The Microsoft details page is here.

I noted, also, that Amazon’s price for Home and Student Edition is very competitive, and I was pleased to see that the option to have it on disc was free too. The Amazon page is here.

Some thoughts on Office 2007/2010:
I have been using “the new Office” since the beta of Office 2007, and am currently running the beta of 2010. I find the modest improvements in 2010 quite nice, but since I am not doing a lot of “online collaboration”, nor in a true business environment (no cubicle for me), I am not able to leverage all of its advanced features.

I have no trouble with the “new” Ribbon menu bars, and I love being able to preview, and then apply, formatting ‘dynamically’. But – and this is a pretty big ‘but’ here – longtime users of Office (97 – 2003) do not always find the transition to the new menus so… pleasant. Fortunately, Microsoft provides many aids for easing the transition to the newer way, such as the Office 2010 menu to ribbon reference workbooks. There is a learning curve going from Office 2003/older, yes.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 9, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, Microsoft, MS Word, News, shopping for, software, tech, word processors | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reader Question | How did they get my e-mail?*

Disable the Preview Pane For Safer Computing & Less Spam

A recent article on spam (e-mail) prompted a reader to send in this good question,

Q: “Hi Paul –
You wrote “don’t even open e-mail from unknown sources.. doing so can/will mark your e-mail address as a “live” person, …”.
How do we delete without opening a specific email message?   Even while deleting in bulk the first email in the highlighted selections opens.  I’m using Outlook Express.  Thanks for your help!

* What is being referred to is the feature common to e-mail clients called the “Preview Pane”.”

A: Dear Reader–
You’re correct that most webmail settings, and e-mail clients, (by default) have what is called a “preview pane”, which opens the first (topmost/most recent) e-mail in your Inbox, and shows you the first few lines of the e-mail. Yes.. this will trigger whatever the spammers/hackers are using to verify receipt (such as downloading an invisible jpeg). Because of this, I always turn the Preview Pane off.oe_new
To do this in OE, click on the View menu and select Layout.
Then in the Preview Pane Properties, uncheck the “Show preview pane” checkbox.

BTW– by exploring Properties/Options/Settings/Preferences (different names for the same thing), you can disable the preview pane in every e-mail viewer.. (i.e., Thunderbird), and webmail (i.e., Hotmail, Gmail, etc).

Tip of the day: While many people find the preview window a convenient way to skim their incoming mail, using it automatically opens your machine up to security risks — especially if you are allowing HTML, and/or images, as the OE pictured above does — and tells anyone who’s interested that yes, your.name@isp.com is a valid address: suitable for spamming.
The spammers (and advertisers) collect lists of these validated addresses and sell them to each other.

I advise disabling the feature, and doing without the ’speed enhancement’ of previewing. Doing so will reduce the amount of spam you receive, improve your privacy, and close the door on one of the methods hackers can use to infect your machine.

Today’s free download: Open Office 3.0 A new version of very popular free office suite is now available. Support for Office 2007 formatting and improved PDF creation in Writer highlight the big additions for business users. A new Start Center provides a launching pad and makes it easier to switch between tools.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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March 6, 2010 Posted by | advice, e-mail, how to, spam and junk mail | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easy Way To Sync Outlook, Google Calendar

Two-way Synchronize Your Contacts and Appointments

Many of my clients are sticking with Microsoft Outlook as their e-mail client, but have migrated to the online Google Calendar for their day planning needs. When I am asked for help with this transition, I recommend that they download and install Google’s syncing tool, called (appropriately enough) Google Calendar Sync, as it allows you to automatically sync events between Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar.

Currently, Google Calendar Sync is only compatible with Microsoft Outlook versions 2003 and 2007, and operating systems Windows XP and Windows Vista.  Windows XP 64-bit Edition is not compatible with Google Calendar Sync at this time.

To expand this capability onto your mobile devices, smart phones, and PDA’s, download and install Google’s sync-ing app for that, called (appropriately enough) Google Mobile Sync.

Using these free tools makes managing your busy life much smoother by keeping your information updated regardless of when, how, or where you need it.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 21, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, Google, how to, Internet, Microsoft, mobile, Portable Computing, Simple File Sharing, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Add A Signature To Your E-mails

Due to my schedule, I must repost for today’s article. This is one of my early (circa 2007) How To’s…

Tip of the day: A quick and easy tip today: personalize your email with a pre-configured signature, and cut down on your repetitive typing. Every email client, and online email account, allows you to create a “signature” which is automatically added to the bottom of every email you send.
I use mine to invite people to visit my websites and it includes clickable links. You may want to provide a phone number or other contact information. Some accounts may allow you to include a (v. small) logo or graphic. Or you can simply enter your name, and save yourself having to type it all the time.

I will demonstrate the steps of creating a signature in Hotmail, and the same methods can be used for other online mailboxes like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and the one that comes from your Internet provider (Cox, Comcast, Earthlink, etc.) — and in Outlook and Thunderbird. I will start with Hotmail:

htmlopts.jpg The place to start, always, is under the Options menu (sometimes “options” is called “Preferences” or “Settings” –  those are interchangeable words in the world of computing menus). This is found in the upper right.
htmlopts2.jpgIn Hotmail, the choice you want is under “Customize your mail” and is named “Personal e-mail signature”. Other mailbox providers may simply label this “Signature”. Click on this choice, whatever it’s named.

The image below shows what I have entered as my Hotmail signature. As you can see, you enter your text here much the same as you do elsewhere in Hotmail, and you have the same toolbar for text options. To make any link you include “clickable” (should you wish), be sure to include the “http://&#8221;.
htmlsig.jpg
When you have your signature the way you like it, hit the “Save” button. While it is true that your signature will be largely ignored by your recipients, it is advisable to keep it short, simple, and professional.

In Outlook, the place to look is under the Tools menu. Click “Options”, and then click on the Mail Format tab, as shown below.

outlookopts.jpg

Click on the “Signatures” button, which is down towards the very bottom.

outsig.jpg
Because this tool is ‘plain text’, and doesn’t have font controls and such, I create my signature in Word, and Copy>Paste it into this window. (I used this same trick in Thunderbird.)

The method to attach a signature in Thunderbird is a little different. Again you start on the Tools menu, but instead of going straight to Options, select the choice right above that; Account Settings.
tbirdsig.jpg
Although this appears to be a very small and “featureless” window, you can in fact create a signature as complex as the one shown in the Hotmail image.

Signatures save you time, can advertise your business, and take only a minute to set up (or, change/update).

Today’s free download: I cannot, right at the moment, recall if I have already posted the free email client Thunderbird as a link.. I think I have but, just in case, here it is again– it’s good enough (especially at spam filtering) for a double posting.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 12, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Transfer OE Address Book To Vista

Reader Asks How To Move Their Address Book To A New Laptop

Q: I purchased a new laptop that has Vista Home Premium. I want to move the addresses stored in Outlook Express on my old machine to the new one, but there isn’t Outlook Express on Vista, there’s something called Mail. How can I move my contacts to the new laptop?

A: Outlook Express is no more. It has been “upgraded” and renamed to “Mail” in Vista, but fear not — it’s still basically the same. What you need to do is make a copy of the .WAB file on you old machine, and then “Import” it on the new machine.

1) In the Search tool (Start >Search) search for “Files and folders”, and enter “*.wab” (no quotes) in the “What to search for” textbox.
(Or, navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local settings\App Data\Identities\{a string of numbers}\Microsoft\Outlook Express)

2) Drag the .wab file from the results window to your portable media — floppy disc, thumb drive. This will copy the file. (or.. you can attach the file to an e-mail, and e-mail it to yourself.)

3) Take the thumb drive/floppy to your new machine and plug it in.

4) Now launch (fancy talk for “open”) Windows Mail.
Import_AB

Click on “File”, then “Import”, and then “Windows Contacts”.

You will be prompted for what to import, and simply point the wizard to your portable media, and then click on the .wab file.

That’s it. You’re done. Now your old Address Book is installed on your new computer.

Today’s free download: Speakonia is a freeware utility that reads text out loud. Speakonia comes with about 20 voices (all with strong robotic accents) and lets you quickly change the reading speed and pitch. Speakonia can save text in WAV files for playback when you’re driving or jogging, but unfortunately it can’t save sound files in the MP3 format. The program interface is clear and straightforward; you simply select text in any document and press Ctrl C to read it aloud. Decent performance and free price make it a reasonable choice for the vision-impaired or people who’d rather do their reading with their ears than their eyes.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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May 18, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to, software, tech, Vista, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Managing Your Inbox*

One of the very first things I do in the process of starting my day is I check my e-mail Inboxes. It is as much a part of my routine as my morning cup of coffee. This morning, it struck me that you do not have to be a computer geek to realize and appreciate that electronic communication has become an important — if not vital — part of our lives. And that it has changed the way we live.

If you will pardon a little self-indulgent reminiscing, I would like to tell you in a before-and-after manner, that I am old enough to well-remember what it was like in the days before email, Instant Messaging, and cell phones. In my High School years there simply were no such things. (There were no ATM machines either, if you can imagine that.)

When I wanted to find out what my friends were up to, I picked up a Slimline telephone (with cord) and tried to catch them before they left, but I usually had to track them down by “making the rounds”, in person, of our ‘hangouts’…which put a lot of miles on my 10-speed bike.

Besides ‘Ma’ Bell, the other method of communicating was the mail, now known as “snail mail”. How we ever got along back then is beyond me.

Today the speed at which I transmit written correspondence is limited only by how frequently the recipient checks their Inbox. My pals answer their phones no matter where they are (or their voicemail does) or what they’re doing.. who doesn’t carry a cellphone? I not only talk to my niece and nephew out on the East Coast, but I can see them via “videoconferencing” (free). Or I can “chat” with IM, no matter the miles of separation (also free).

But of all these modern methods, I rely the most on email. Email is the main way I stay informed and in contact with my friends and kinfolk, and the same is probably true for you.

Because I am an “email guy”, I am perhaps overly aware of the negatives of email. I am peeved by spam, alarmed by phishing, nervous about privacy, and paranoid about hackers and e-criminals. I have written a few articles on these ‘negatives’ and how to combat them, and my “Tip of the day” today is,  if you have not read them, to consider clicking on the following links.
Managing your email: eliminating the junk

Managing junk mail in Outlook/Thunderbird
They ARE reading your mail

How to block ads
Simple e-mail encryption

It is my hope that the knowledge you find there will make using the modern miracle of electronic communication a safer and more pleasant experience.

Note: I just have to add.. be very leery of e-mail attachments, and don’t ‘open’ them from people you don’t know. And I know you’ve heard this a million times — never click the link. Type the URL into your browser, it is easy to make them look like they go one place, and they really go someplace else.

Today’s free download: If you are considering building your own website, or are interested in free WYSIWYG web-authoring tools, a nice tool is the free version of Web Easy Professional, by V-Comm.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 7, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to, Internet, security, spam and junk mail | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Outlook as a security risk

Disable E-mail Client’s Preview Pane For Safer Computing & Less Spam

A recent article on scam spam (e-mail) prompted a reader to send in this good question,

Hi Paul –
You wrote “don’t even open e-mail from unknown sources.. doing so can/will mark your e-mail address as a “live” person, …”.
How do we delete without opening a specific email message?   Even while deleting in bulk the first email in the highlighted selections opens.  I’m using Outlook Express.  Thanks for your help!

What is being referred to is the feature common to e-mail clients called the “Preview Pane”.

OE

Dear Reader–
You’re correct that most webmail settings, and e-mail clients, (by default) have what is called a “preview pane”, which opens the first (topmost/most recent) e-mail in your Inbox, and shows you the first few lines of the e-mail. Yes.. this will trigger whatever the spammers/hackers are using to verify receipt (such as downloading an invisible jpeg). Because of this, I always turn the Preview Pane off.
To do this in OE, click on the View menu and select Layout.
Then in the Preview Pane Properties, uncheck the “Show preview pane” checkbox.

BTW– by exploring Properties/Options/Settings/Preferences (different names for the same thing), you can disable the preview pane in every e-mail viewer.. Hotmail, Thunderbird, etc.

Tip of the day: While many people find the preview window a convenient way to skim their incoming mail, using it automatically opens your machine up to security risks (especially if you are allowing HTML, and/or images, as the OE pictured above does) and tells anyone who’s interested that yes, your.name@isp.com is a valid address.. suitable for spamming.

I advise disabling the feature, and doing without the ’speed enhancement’ of previewing. Doing so will reduce the amount of spam you receive, improve your privacy, and close the door on one of the methods hackers can use to infect your machine.
Trust me folks, you do not want to be on a spammer list.

Today’s free download: (For Mac) Evernote is the ubiquitous notetaking/data capture utility, and I was pleased to find it for Apple machines/devices. From site: “Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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February 14, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to, Internet, privacy, security, spam and junk mail, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment