Archive for December, 2010

Happy 2011!

To my esteemed readers, book patrons, training clients, word processing clients, students, colleagues, fellow bloggers (and other kindred spirits), advisers, benefactors, boosters, friends, and family:

Every good wish for excellent health, financial solvency, and a simply stellar year in 2011 — whatever that means for each of you!

Also, my deeply felt thanks for all of your support throughout this past year. In tangible and intangible ways, you have contributed tremendously to CompuSavvy’s success, and you have taught me a great deal. I appreciate you more than you know.

Watch for many more tips, new books, new classes, and additional software training services (including virtual training via WebEx) in the new year!

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December 31, 2010 at 5:54 pm

New Class: “Troubleshooting Word Documents”

Starting in February of 2011, CompuSavvy will be offering a new hands-on computer lab class in various California cities entitled “Troubleshooting Word Documents.”

The class, which will focus on complex documents (including, but not limited to, legal pleadings), will begin by reviewing some common problems — issues related to line and paragraph spacing, page numbering, headers and footers, automatic numbering, tables, cross-references, Tables of Contents, styles, etc. From there, we’ll explore a number of diagnostic tools built into Word — some fairly well known and others somewhat obscure. As a group, we’ll attempt to discern which tools are most useful in which circumstances.

There will be a lesson on recognizing the symptoms of document corruption and fixing (or working around) such corruption. Also, we will go over methods of last resort — i.e., what to do when none of the available troubleshooting tools resolves the problem.

More generally, the class will examine how a methodical approach plus creative brainstorming can improve students’ troubleshooting skills.

If time permits, we will hold a “document clinic” toward the end of the class in which we try to diagnose and fix students’ problem documents. (Because of strict policies to avoid viruses and the like, we won’t be allowed to copy documents to the computers in the lab, so students wishing to participate in the clinic will need to bring their own laptops to class.)

You can read a press release with additional details by clicking this link.

This past summer, we reduced the prices for CompuSavvy’s full-day and half-day classes. Full-day classes, previously priced at $295.00, now cost $255.00; half-day classes, previously priced at $225.00, now cost $195.00. I have extended those discounts through at least March 31, 2011. (The fees for classes scheduled in April and May are designated as “TBD” — to be determined. It’s likely that we’ll retain the current discounts for a while longer.)

For an updated schedule of classes through May of next year, see the Upcoming Classes page on CompuSavvy’s web site. For course outlines (which I’m still tweaking), see this page.

Please let your co-workers, colleagues, and friends know about this new class. And note that even though we will use some legal documents as examples, the troubleshooting techniques we cover will be useful to people in other professions, too.

December 27, 2010 at 10:31 am

Tiplet: Navigate Word’s Ribbon With Mnemonics

Just a quick tiplet for now (after all, it’s Christmas!).

Microsoft provided a useful tool to help people work with the Ribbon in the newer versions of Word (and other programs in the MS Office suite): mnemonics. In the context of computer software, the term “mnemonics” (or “mnemonic”), derived from a Greek word that means something like “of memory,” typically applies to an underlined letter in the name of a drop-down menu; you can open a specific menu by pressing the Alt key plus the mnemonic (i.e., the underlined letter in that menu’s name). After you open a menu, you might notice underlined letters (mnemonics) in some of the command names. Once the menu is open, simply pressing a mnemonic — without also pressing the Alt key — executes a particular command.

With respect to the Ribbon, mnemonics operate a little differently. Pressing the Alt key by itself produces a series of mnemonics that appear as numbers or letters (or a combination of both) within white boxes. Initially, you’ll see letters below each tab of the Ribbon, as well as numbers designating icons on the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).[1] The mnemonics for the built-in tabs [2] are:

Home Tab — H
Insert Tab — N
Page Layout Tab — P
References Tab — S
Mailings Tab — M
Review Tab — R
View Tab — W
Developer Tab — L
Add-Ins Tab — X

To bring a specific tab to the forefront, press the mnemonic for that tab. When the tab becomes active, you’ll see another series of mnemonics, this time representing commands on that tab. Tabs that contain groups with dialog launchers also display mnemonics that you can use to open a dialog box. For instance, if you press Alt P to bring the Page Layout tab to the forefront, you can launch the Page Setup dialog by pressing SP (without simultaneously pressing the Alt key).

Note that although the letter mnemonics appear in capitals, they are not case-sensitive.

To turn off the mnemonics, you can press the Alt key again or press the Esc key.

Another quick note about using mnemonics to navigate the Ribbon: Once you have activated a tab, you can use the arrow keys to move around within that tab (and execute commands). First, press the down arrow to position the cursor inside the tab.[3] The right arrow key will move the cursor from command to command, starting at the left side of the tab and moving rightward. (After moving the cursor rightward, you can use the left arrow key to move the cursor to the left.) To execute a command, press the Enter key.

When you encounter a command with a drop-down, you can press the Alt key together with the down arrow key to open the drop-down. Press Esc to close the drop-down.

Should the cursor get “stuck” in an input fields (such as the Indent and Spacing boxes on the Page Layout tab), press the Tab key to move from field to field, just as you would do in a dialog box. If that doesn’t work for some reason, you can press the Esc key one or more times to release the cursor.

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[1] Depending on the number of icons on your QAT, you might see combined numbers and letters, such as 0A, 0B, 0C, etc., too.

[2] The Developer tab and the Add-Ins tab might not be displayed on your machine. To display one or both of those tabs, do the following: (a) In Word 2007, click the Office button, Word Options, Popular, and check the box to the left of “Show Developer tab in the Ribbon.” (As far as I know, you can’t display the Add-Ins tab in Word 2007 unless you have an add-in that comes with its own toolbar for Word. Ordinarily, you manage add-ins in Word 2007 by clicking the Office button, Word Options, Add-Ins.) (b) In Word 2010, click the File tab, Options, Customize Ribbon. Navigate to the right-hand side of the Word Options screen and locate the boxes to the left of the Developer tab and the Add-Ins tab. Click to put a checkmark in the box(es), then click OK to save your changes.

[3] If you press the right arrow first, the cursor will move from tab to tab (bringing different tabs to the forefront, in turn).

December 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Using floating cells to “mirror” formulas — or text — in WordPerfect

Floating cells are single-celled tables that don’t have borders. WordPerfect Help (from an old version of the software) describes a floating cell as follows:

“A code in the text of a document that has the properties of a table cell. A floating cell can contain formulas, text, or numbers. Unlike a table cell, which is surrounded by table lines, a floating cell is used outside of tables. Floating cells refer to data in tables or in other floating cells. You can create a floating cell practically anywhere in a document, such as in a header or footer.

The information in the floating cell updates whenever you update the information it refers to. For example, you could create a floating cell in the text of a mortgage document. This floating cell could refer to a table that calculates the interest on home loans, so that the correct interest amount would be automatically entered into the mortgage document in place of the floating cell.

Copyright © Corel Corporation Limited. All Rights Reserved.”

To use a floating cell to repeat (mirror) text, a formula, or numbers in a table cell, do the following:

First, create your table and format it as you like. Then click the Table menu, Create, Floating Cell, Create. (In legacy versions of WordPerfect, the sequence is Insert, Table, Floating Cell, Create.)

There are two ways to link a floating cell to a table (or to a table cell or another floating cell):

1. Click in the Formula Bar, then (a) click in the cell you want to copy and (b) click the blue check mark within Formula Bar. Doing so will insert the cell reference into the floating cell.

2. Alternatively, you can type a formula or cell reference directly in the floating cell. For instance,

+TABLE A.B1

The formula immediately above refers to cell B1 of TABLE A (the first table in your document).

Note that you can assign names to cells or ranges of cells, or even to entire tables (by using the “Names…” button in the Formula Bar). If you have named the cell you wish to “copy,” the formula you type in the floating cell would look something like this:

+TABLE A.CELL NAME

Be sure to use this exact syntax. In other words, you need a plus sign ahead of the table name, a space between the word “TABLE” and the table letter, and a period ahead of the cell reference or cell name. You may find that you have to click in the floating cell in order for it to update information you type in the table cell. If that doesn’t work, right-click within the floating cell and click “Calculate.”

Automatic Calculation

In order for WordPerfect to perform automatic calculations in tables and floating cells, the automatic calculation function must be enabled. If it does not seem to be working, you can turn on automatic calculation by placing your cursor within a table or floating cell and clicking the Table menu, then clicking “Calculate.” When the Calculate dialog box opens, click “Calculate table” (if you want WP to perform automatic calculation only within the particular table your cursor is in) or “Calculate tables in document,” then click “OK.”

If for some reason you don’t want to enable automatic calculation generally (i.e., for future documents), you still can update the information in tables and floating cells in the current document by positioning your cursor within a table or floating cell and clicking the Calculate Document button in the Calculate dialog box; by right-clicking, then clicking “Calculate”; or by clicking the Calculate button in the Formula Bar.

Note that calculations are performed when you move the cursor out of the table or floating cell that contains the text, number, or formula to which other tables or floating cells in your document refer.

Uses for Floating Cells

Floating cells can be used anywhere in your document that you want text, numbers, or formulas to be repeated. They’re particularly handy if you want all of the iterations to be updated automatically when you make a change in the original text, numbers, or formulas. Think of floating cells as a sophisticated technique for cross-referencing–one that permits updating the cross-references throughout the document all at once.

One obvious use for floating cells is for responses to special interrogatories, where you have several identical responses (“Objection. Vague and ambiguous as to the term…”).

To do so, click Table, Create, Floating Cell, Create to insert one floating cell into the document where you would normally type the first response, and type the response as usual. (It can be helpful to turn on Reveal Codes at this point so that you’re sure to type the text between the Floating Cell “on” and “off” codes.)

Next, insert floating cells where you would normally type the additional responses.

Within each floating cell (between the “on” and “off” codes), insert a cell reference to the first floating cell. You can (1) type the cell reference directly (+FLOATING CELL A) or, if you prefer, (2) click in the Formula Bar, click within the original floating cell, and then click the blue checkmark within the Formula Bar. When you move the cursor out of the original floating cell, the text in the original floating cell should appear within the others.

If you need to make a change, edit the text in the original floating cell, then move the cursor out of the cell–and voilà! The change will be reflected in the other cells.

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This post is adapted from two WordPerfect handouts I wrote some time ago. The information still applies to newer versions of the program.

December 11, 2010 at 10:11 am

Protect mail recipients’ privacy with bccs

What occasioned this post was two e-mails I received in the past few weeks. Both were mass mailings. One was sent by a friend who was arranging a holiday brunch for group of 40-50 people and needed to run possible dates past each of us; the other came from a neighbor I’ve never met (or heard of), inviting me and dozens of other people in the neighborhood to take an upcoming class sponsored by the local Fire Department about coping with emergencies such as earthquakes. (I’m on that list, evidently, because another neighbor with whom I’m friendly included me in a mailing earlier this year about a volunteer effort to plant trees in our area.) I also regularly receive e-mail announcements from a crafts gallery in Northern California that I visit every now and then.

All of these mailings clearly display, both in the “cc” line and within the body of the message itself, the addresses of everyone on the mailing list — many of whom are complete strangers. While I seriously doubt that anyone who received these notes is likely to do anything to harm, or even annoy, me, I would have preferred not to have my contact information distributed to people I don’t know without my advance knowledge or permission.

It’s hard to believe that in this day and age, people don’t routinely use the “bcc” (“blind carbon copy”) option when sending e-mail to multiple recipients. This option, available in all e-mail programs, preserves the recipients’ privacy by hiding their addresses (that’s what the word “blind” means in this context; if that term is overly confusing, substitute the word “invisible”).

There is nothing sinister or devious about using bccs. They have been a standard practice in business letters since well before the advent of the personal computer. In general, they are used in two situations: (1) when senders don’t want the recipient to know that they are also mailing a copy of a letter to one specific person (for instance, you might write a demand letter to a contractor who defaulted on his legal obligations and send a bcc to your lawyer); and/or (2) when people send out mass mailings, such as newsletters, announcements, invitations, and the like.

In the second situation, bccs are considered good “netiquette.” They’re also prudent, given widespread concerns about privacy (resulting in part from the ease with which strangers can, and do, collect and disseminate information — or spread patent falsehoods — about others nowadays).[1]

The bcc field usually appears immediately below the cc field when you are composing an e-mail message. If you don’t see it, take a close look at the screen. In particular, try to locate a link labeled “Show bccs” or something similar. (You can press Ctrl F, type “bcc” — without quotation marks, of course — and click “Next” or “Find” to search for such a link.) Clicking the link should produce a standard bcc field, where you can type e-mail addresses or, better yet, pull them into the field directly from your address book.

Remember that addresses entered into the “To” or “cc” field are visible to everyone who receives an e-mail; addresses entered into the “bcc” field are invisible to the recipients (and, often, to the sender as well [2]).

Unless you know for certain that the recipients don’t mind sharing their address with others, it’s best to err on the side of caution. In other words, make it a general rule to use bccs for mass mailings.

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[1] I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know the legal implications of failing to use bccs. However, it isn’t hard to imagine circumstances where exposing someone’s e-mail address to a stranger could have adverse consequences that ultimately result in a lawsuit. This possibility alone strikes me as reason enough to use bccs when sending a mass mailing. Also, some people simply have strong feelings about not revealing their contact information to others without prior permission. Why risk alienating friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers, and/or potential or actual clients?

[2] All e-mail programs enable you to view the message “headers” in e-mails you have sent, although the location of this feature will vary depending on which program you use. Essentially, you will need to click to display your Sent folder, click to select/highlight a specific message that you’ve sent, then click View or some similar menu and look for a command such as Message Headers or Headers. For example, in Thunderbird, you click View, Headers, and then choose between “Normal” (collapsed headers) and “All” (expanded headers). The “All” option displays a list of the people to whom you have sent bccs.

December 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Lulu discount coupons for the next 25 days

See this link on Lulu’s site for a new discount coupon a day between now and Christmas. (This page takes the form of an Advent calendar, where you open an additional “window” each day.)

December 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm


© Jan Berinstein 2009-present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of one or more articles posted on this blog -- i.e., without express written permission from the blog’s author -- is strictly prohibited. You may use brief excerpts and/or links, provided that you give full, accurate, and prominent credit to Jan Berinstein, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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