06 September, 2013

Helpful Outlook Shortcuts

I'm always looking for shortcuts to reduce the time I spend moving the mouse. My company just sent this email with a few helpful Outlook shortcuts, and therefore I'm sharing them with you...

Outlook 2010 Shortcuts

  • Ctrl + E will help you find a message or other item.
  • Ctrl + Alt + R will reply to an email with a meeting request.
  • Ctrl + Shift + A will create an appointment.
  • Ctrl + Alt + F will forward an email as an attachment.
  • Ctrl + Shift + M will draft a message from any Outlook view.

Outlook 2011 for Mac Shortcuts

  • Shift + ⌘ + K will send all the messages in your outbox.
  • Shift + ⌘ + O will display all unread messages in your inbox.
  • Ctrl + ⌘ + C will check recipient names in an open message.
  • Ctrl + 2 will flag an item for follow up for “tomorrow;” Ctrl + 3 will flag for “this week;” Ctrl + 4 will flag for “next week”.

15 August, 2013

Lenovo Yoga (Synaptics) Touchpad Adjustments

I recently purchased a Lenova Yoga, which is a laptop - tablet hybrid (an article for another time). I am quite happy with it, but have been rather annoyed with one "feature."

While using the touchpad, what seemed like for no reason, the screen would switch to the last program I was using. I finally discovered it was caused when I moved my finger to the right on the touchpad -- which is common when moving the cursor. I move it right, I move it left, I move it up, I move it down... you get the idea, we move the cursor on the screen, because that's how it works.

I found the device properties, and learned that this was a "feature" of the touchpad. A left-to-right movement from the edge of the touchpad is an indication you want to see the last program used. Simply disabling the "Edge Swipes" feature solved this annoyance.

By the way, the same feature exists in Windows 8 for touchscreens. I find this to be a great feature, and use it frequently.

For you geeks or geek wannabes...
Lenovo uses a reduced set of functions of Synaptics touchpad technology.For those who want all the features of Synaptics touchpad, I found a well put together reference from djklmnop on the Lenovo forums. See the 4th post on this thread. In the post, djklmnop has inserted a link to a file where he's included a wealth of helpful information based on a lot of hard work on his part.

31 July, 2013

Delete all objects in Excel

I recently copied hundreds of rows of data from a webpage into Excel. Unfortunately it brought over several unwanted objects, which I needed to delete.

It seemed quite consuming if I was to select and delete each individually. Worse I discovered that I couldn't select some of the objects (checkboxes). I learned two new techniques for mass deleting objects.

If you can select the objects

  1. Press F5 -- this opens the "Go To" dialog box
  2. Click Special... -- this opens the "Go To Special" dialog box
  3. Select the Objects radio button
  4. Click OK -- this closes the dialog box and all the objects in the worksheet are selected
  5. Press Delete and all the objects are deleted
    • If you don't want all the objects deleted, first un-select those you don't want to lose.
    • If you get a message "no objects found", then move on to the next method.

For those objects that can't be selected

For those that know how to create a macro, here's the macro:
Sub foo()
Dim obj As Object
For Each obj In ActiveSheet.Shapes
End Sub
For the rest of us who need a reminder...

  1. Press Alt-F8 to display the Macro dialog box
  2. Enter a new macro name (such as "foo") in the text box just below "Macro name:"
    - This will change the Create button from an inactive to active state
    - If you already have one or more macro, the name of one may already be in the "Macro name:" text box. That's ok, just type over it and Excel will realize you're wanting to create a new macro.
  3. Click Create -- this opens the Visual Basic Editor
  4. Copy the lines above and paste into the edit window
    - Note if you didn't use "foo" as a name, you will need to make sure you update the macro code accordingly
  5. Close the editor window -- you should be back on your worksheet
  6. Press Alt-F8 again
  7. Select your new macro and click Run -- all your objects should now be deleted from your worksheet
That's all there is too it! It took me longer to write this than it'll take you to read and use. ;)

26 July, 2013

RoboForm Extension not working in Chrome

RoboForm is one of those go-to programs that if it doesn't work in my browser, I don't use the browser. I became quite frustrated when RoboForm quit working in Chrome. I tried going into the Extensions manager to get any clues, and when I changed settings I got a pop up error message.

As it turned out, Chrome has a Windows 8 mode and a Desktop mode, and I was in Windows 8 mode. Apparently some Extensions in Chrome don't work in Windows 8 mode. I switched to Desktop mode, and magically RoboForm worked.

24 June, 2013

Search and replace special characters in Word

Trying to find or replace special, non-viewable characters in Word? It's easy if you know how! Once you know how, you'll find many new uses. For example, I recently received a table of values in an email, and when I copied into Excel the values didn't go to the cells.

With a little search and replace in Word, I reformatted the data so it was tab delimited, and then opening in Excel was a snap. In this case, I had three columns of data, all separated by various number of spaces so that it looked nice in the email. This is how to replace the spaces with tabs.
  1. When replacing several spaces at once, the trick is to find and replace the longest number of spaces first. This had some column spaces with 4 spaces, 5, spaces, and 6 spaces, so I started with searching for 6 spaces.
  2. Open the Find and Replace dialog box (Ctrl-H).
  3. Put 6 spaces in the "Find what:" field.
  4. In the "Replace with:" field, enter "^9".
    Note the following:
    1. No quotes
    2. "^" is the character above the "6" on your keyboard (Shift-6)
  5. Click "Replace All."
    This will replace all the instances where there are 6 spaces.
  6. Repeat the process for each of the smaller number of spaces, e.g. 5, then 4.
  7. Copy and paste the final results into Excel.
If you're still with me, you learned that using the caret ("^") followed by a code will allow you to either find and/or replace hidden characters. Here are a list of frequently used codes.
Tab ^9 or ^t
Page or section break ^12
Replace with clipboard contents (Replace only) ^c
Graphic ^g
Paragraph ^p
ASCII character number ^nnn
where nnn is the character number in decimal
ANSI character number ^0nnn
where nnn is the character number in decimal
Caret character ^^
Any number ^#
Any letter ^$
Em dash (Find only) ^+
En dash (Find only) ^=

09 February, 2013

Eurogames for iOS / mobile devices

For the past several years I've started playing Eurogames. Eurogames are board games that are much more strategic in nature than the games we grew up with. Basically they require significantly more skill than luck. It's a great alternative to sitting in front of a computer by yourself playing a game.

More recently there have been apps created that work just like the board games, and making setup and cleanup much easier. Most of these games have options to play against online opponents, pass-around mode, and a built-in AI. (Yes it puts you back on an electronic device, but you can do it in the living room or other public place.) I've enjoyed a few of these apps as they offer multiple benefits:
  • Ability to practice strategies
  • Usually faster than waiting on each person to take their turn
  • You don't have to wait for a convenient time to gather enough players
  • You can stop in the middle and resume later
These have been my favorites
  • Le Havre: Played on iPad 2 and iPhone 5.
    (The iPhone UI is quite small; I suggest you first learn the UI on the iPad.)
  • Tigris & Euphrates: Played on iPad 2 and iPhone 5.
  • Stone Age: iPhone version only; played on iPad 2 and iPhone 5.
Other games I've tried
  • Puerto Rico: From the makers of Le Havre and Tigris & Euphrates. I found this game to be more difficult. It's possible I'm just not as good at this game, but also the UI isn't near as good as Le Havre and Tigris & Euphrates. Note, this is only available for iPad.
  • Caylus: This maybe the same as Puerto Rico, where perhaps I'm not as a good of player, but I haven't found myself playing Caylus as much. Caylus is available for both the iPhone and iPad.
  • The Settlers of Catan: This is the premier gateway game to all Eurogames. This is a fine game, I just found it a bit slow on the iPhone. It is supposed to be available for the iPad as well, though I haven't tried as of yet.
  • Ticket to Ride: This is also an entry level game to Eurogames. The iPhone app is quite good, I just happen to like the more advanced Europgames. It is also supposed to be available for the iPad.
On my list to try
  • Small World: Good Eurogame; available for the iPad.
  • Carcasson: Never played the board game, though looks good. At $10, it's the most expensive of the iOS games I've seen so far.
Please leave a comment with your favorite mobile games.

Help with iTunes 11

With the changes to iTunes 11, I struggled finding a couple of features. First, the left side-bar was missing.
Hide or show the left side-bar by clicking CTRL-s (or CMD-s).
The other thing I struggled with was finding the option to Manually manage music and video. It was quite easy once I found it. The problem was that it was hidden below the fold.
  • Go to your device (iPod, iPhone, or iPad), and click on the Summary section.
  • From the Summary section, scroll down.
  • The option is located just above the Reset Warnings button.
  • Then it's simply checking or unchecking the box and clicking Apply.

22 January, 2013

Merge PowerPoint Slides from Different Language Sources

I recently had a situation where I needed to merge PowerPoint slides that had originated from two different language versions. While both were written in English, one group of slides were created from a Spanish install of PowerPoint. Of course the English text was displaying as incorrect spellings in the Spanish version.

First, I was surprised to see the English text still displayed as spelled incorrect when I opened in my English install of PowerPoint. After that, I figured once the slides originating from the Spanish version of PowerPoint were inserted into an English version PowerPoint, it would correct itself. I found that still wasn't the case. All the slides that were authored in the Spanish version of PowerPoint still retained the Spanish dictionary, and therefore the English text on those slides indicated they were misspelled.

Come to find out, each text box within PowerPoint is assigned its own dictionary language. In order to correct, follow these steps. (Note that I'm using PowerPoint 2007.)
  1. Go to an individual slide
  2. Press Ctrl-A to select all object on the slide, including the Title and Body
  3. Go to Review >> Language
    - this will open a Language dialog box
  4. Change the "Mark selected text as:" option to English (United States) [or whatever language you want to change to]
  5. Click OK
  6. Repeat for each slide in the deck that you want to update the dictionary

Unfortunately I couldn't find a way to do this for all slides at once.