Monday, October 25th, 2010

Quick and easy PDF to Word

Adobe acrobat reader pdf snapshot tool  Quick and easy PDF to Word
While these days it’s easy enough to get data from programs like Excel and Word into a PDF file, sometimes it’s just a little bit difficult to get it back out again.

Often all I need is a picture from a PDF file that I can drop into a Word document add a signature or some text, and then re-bundle it as a PDF and distribute.

Not everyone sets up PDF files so that they can be edited and in most cases I’ll need to do the editing myself – so for that I use Word as I can drop in a signature or a text box really easily.

The problem then becomes how do you get the data out of the PDF and into Word. Luckily the Adobe Acrobat Reader has a tool for this built in.

From the menu select Tools > Select & Zoom > Snapshot Tool. Now position yourself in the file where you want to grab the data from and drag over the area to capture.

A picture of the area is captured to the Windows clipboard which you can now paste into another program such as a Word document. It’s not the world’s prettiest solution but it is quick and easy and that works for me.

Helen Bradley

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Drives not recognized in Vista

Vista drive allocation Drives not recognized in Vista 

Having just purchased two brand new backup USB drives, unboxed them and plugged them into my computer, imagine my horror when neither appeared as drives in Windows Explorer, effectively rendering them useless. They were recognized easily by an older XP machine proving that it wasn’t the fault of the drives but it was a Vista issue. Drives these days are typically plug and play devices so they should install and run automatically without needing to be set up.

Running Control Panel > System > Device Manager and selecting disk drives from the list showed the drives in the list, so Vista knew the drives were there. It just wasn’t giving me access to them.

The problem was that neither drive had been allocated a drive letter so they weren’t showing up as being accessible. To fix this you have to do the work yourself. Start by selecting Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management – if necessary, you’ll need administrator access to run this.

When the Computer Management Console opens, from the Storage Options group, select Disk Management and wait as the computer loads information about your disks.

Somewhere in that list will be the drive or drives that you are looking for. Select any volume in the list at the top of the dialog that has no drive letter associated with it and then check the disk specifications below until you locate the drive you want access to.

You should note that there are possibly partitions on your hard drive that also do not have drive letters for varying reasons – don’t touch these – you’re here looking for external hard drives without drive letters.

When you locate the drive in question, right click the entry in the top portion of the dialog and choose Change Drive Letter and Paths. Click Add and then from the Assign The Following Drive Letter dropdown list, select a drive letter that is not currently in use to assign that drive to and click Ok.

When you do, the volume should now appear in the list with some sort of drive name in front of it and the appropriate drive letter. If you now restart My Computer or Windows Explorer the drive will appear ready for use.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Handling MOD MOI movies

sdcopy utility for converting mod movie files Handling MOD MOI movies

I hate it when camera manufacturers don’t use standard formats for their movie files.

My camera uses the MOD/MOI format which practically no player known to man (or woman) can play. It shouldn’t really be a problem as MOD is really just MPG in disguise and you should be able to rename the MOD file to read MPG and it should play – but you’ll encounter problems if you capture in 16:9 aspect ratio. Go figure!

Before you sling the camcorder into the trash and vow never to buy from that manufacturer again, read on. On second thoughts you should vow never to buy from a manufacturer that cares so little for their customers that they use impossible to read formats – after all you’re shooting movies – chances are you’ll want to do something with them – like watch them or perhaps I’m expecting too much?

So, the solution is to download this little SDCOPY.EXE utility which comes bundled in a zip file that just needs to be extracted and then run.

It is simplicity itself, you tell it where your MOD files are and where you want the converted files to go (I recommend a second/separate folder) and if the widescreen 16:9 flag needs to be set and press Start and in a few minutes you have viewable converted MPG files.

So, thanks but no thanks Canon. I won’t be buying a new camcorder from you and thanks to Sektionschef for creating and continuing to support this handy utility.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Borrowing PowerPoint Image Designs

PowerPoint borrow picture layouts Borrowing PowerPoint Image Designs

This stickytape image border comes from the Solstice Theme and here I’ve added it as a new layout in my Oriel Theme.

I saw a recent post on a blog which referred to one of my earlier posts about creating torn edge image effects in PowerPoint 2007. You can see my original post here:

Someone who responded to the post asked if there was a way of using the photo edges from a theme but not the theme itself. Their problem was they loved the edges but because their organization had a custom theme that was always used, the person wasn’t allowed to change it. The question got me thinking about a solution and here it is!

To use an image design from a PowerPoint theme first create a new file by choosing File > New > Blank Presentation and then choose the New Slide > Picture with Caption Layout – this is the layout typically used to apply fancy styles to images.

Click on the image locator and add an image to the slide – it doesn’t matter what image you add – you just need something so you can see how the image design looks.

Now go to the Design tab and arrow over each of the Themes in turn to see what the image layout looks like. For example, Solstice has a sticky tape edge to the image, Pushpin adds the image with a pushpin background and Opulent has a layered frame look. Flow has a bent corner on the image, Couture has an interesting beveled edge and Summer has a series of illustrative dots around the image. You may find other interesting designs in other Themes such as those that you download from Office Online.

Select the Theme that has the look you want to borrow.

Now choose View > Slide Master and locate the Picture with Caption Layout. Drag over the elements that create the look that you want such as the Pushpin and frame, the sticky tape frame or the circles. Make sure to include the image placeholder. Right click the selected elements and choose Copy.

Now open a file that uses your corporate Theme – or the Theme you prefer to use. Choose View > Slide Master and locate the Picture with Caption Layout slide layout. Right click it and choose Duplicate layout.

Click the image placeholder on this duplicate layout and delete it. Right click on the layout and choose Paste to paste the elements that you copied from the other layout. Move the design elements into a new position, if desired.

You can now adjust the text and title boxes on the layout so that they don’t encroach over the elements that you’ve just added to the design.

When you’re done, click Close Master View.

To save the Theme with the new Layout, from the Design tab open the Themes dropdown palette and choose Save Current Theme and save it.

In future you can use this Theme for your slideshows and to use the layout you created select it from the Layout list where it appears with all the other layouts from the original theme.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Visual Basic 2008 Express – select a textbox contents

When you hand control back to a textbox in Visual Basic it’s useful if you also select the textbox contents so a user can just start typing over the current contents. Here’s how to do this – place the code in the Textbox_gotfocus event handler:

TextBox.SelectionStart = 0
TextBox.SelectionLength = Len(TextBox.Text)

How easy is that?

Helen Bradley

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

PowerPoint Save to CD doesn’t include the viewer

PowerPoint 2010 package presentation for CD PowerPoint Save to CD doesnt include the viewerIf you’ve tried to save a presentation to a CD from PowerPoint 2010, you might be misled by the onscreen instructions into believing that the PowerPoint Viewer application will be added to your CD.

This is anything but the case. The PowerPoint Viewer is not added to your CD so you won’t have it with you and if you take your PowerPoint presentation to a computer that doesn’t have the viewer on it and you don’t have an internet connection, you’re SOL. Poor show Microsoft!

What the presentation CD will contain is a HTML file that will launch when you place the CD in a computer. This contains a link to download the PowerPoint Viewer from the web. You have to go to the web site and then download and install it on the target machine – the Viewer cannot be run from the CD.

While most people won’t have a huge problem with this, it would be nice if Microsoft actually told the truth about the process and warned you what you need to have and to do. Otherwise many hapless folk are going to assume that it all works as it has in the past and arrive at presentation time without PowerPoint on the computer they are presenting on and having to download and install the viewer before they can begin. The situation will be worse still if an internet connection isn’t available.

So, as always, make sure to test your presentation thoroughly before you start. Know that you may need extra time to download the viewer or go ahead and download it ahead of time and take a copy with you that you can install on the computer you will be presenting on.

Helen Bradley

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Line feed in VBA textbox

VBA linefeed Line feed in VBA textbox

When you need to create a line feed (new line) in a VBA text box you can do so in the string that you’re using to assemble your message using any one of a  number of methods.

You can use Chr(13) which is an old style character conversion of ASCII character 13 which is the carriage return and line feed character. Or you can use vbNewLine or even vbCrLf.

But, try as you might, all you will get in your textbox is a silly paragraph marker and not a new line if you don’t set your textbox up as a multiline text box in its Properties.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Helen Bradley

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Excel – cell reference in SumIF

Excel sumif Excel   cell reference in SumIFI love SUMIF. It’s a handy tool for summarizing data. So, today I was checking how much I had invoiced a client – I have actual charges for stories I write in one column and the invoice numbers that these were charged under in another. I wanted a summary so I know the total of invoice 1 was $x and invoice 2 was $y.

SumIF is the tool to use. It goes like this:


this sums the values in the range H1:H200 only if the corresponding values in the range G1:G200 is 1. So, it does the deed for Invoice #1. Repeat as required for invoices 2-20 – no way!

It is much easier if I place the numbers 1, 2, 3 and so on in cells of the worksheet and reference them in a single formula that can be copied rather than writing this 20 times… or 100 times… you get the picture… it’s simply not on to do this.

Problem is – how to refer to a cell in the SumIF function. This DOES NOT WORK!  =sumif(G1:G200,”=N1″,H1:H200). Excel doesn’t see the N1 as a cell reference - it sees it as a value to match.

So, you have to write it differently:


the “=”&N1 references the value in N1 as the one to match and the $ symbols are needed so the formula can be copied.

Helen Bradley

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Format Hyperlinks in PowerPoint 2010

PowerPoint format hyperlinks Format Hyperlinks in PowerPoint 2010If you’ve added an email link or a website URL to a PowerPoint slide, you’ll know that PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010 automatically format the hyperlinks for you.

Because PowerPoint doesn’t use styles, it’s not obvious exactly how the formatting gets applied and how you control it.

The first thing to know is that you simply can’t control the underlining, it’s there and it’s there to stay. You can, however, change the colors used.

Click the Design tab > Colors > Create New Theme Colors, locate the Hyperlink color and change it to something different if desired. To control the Followed Hyperlink color, select that option and change it.

You now need to save your changes as a custom color scheme, so type a name for your color scheme and click Save.

Now the chosen hyperlink color and followed hyperlink color will be used to format the hyperlinks in your PowerPoint presentation.

Helen Bradley

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Units of measure in PowerPoint

word units of measure Units of measure in PowerPoint

Ok, so its easy to change units of measure in Word by setting the Word Options to measure in inches or cm – depending on where you live. However, if you’re using PowerPoint don’t waste your time looking in PowerPoint for the setting – it ain’t there.

Instead, the measurements in PowerPoint are tied to your geography. If you live in the US you get inches, if you fess up to living else where you get your local units of measure. To change where you live, launch the Control Panel and look for a Regional settings option and set your location there.

For those of us who live in the US but who think imperial measurements suck big time and who yearn for the metrics of our childhood in the far off land of Aus, thanks to Microsoft we are s*** out of luck. You see, if I set my region as Australia or the Uk to get metrics, everything else goes pear shaped and Google starts serving up UK or Australian pages in preference to US ones, or I get £ by default in Excel. It’s all round not a good choice. So, I’ll have to suck it up and learn to embrace feet and inches – but provided you still call the land of your birth home chances are you’ll be just fine.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Don’t spell check this – Word 2010

Word no poofing Dont spell check this   Word 2010

I write a lot of code in Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and in PowerPoint slide shows. I’m not totally unusual in including macros in my files as well as detailing the macro code within the various documents.

However, as you can imagine, Office applications spit the dummy when they see code and everything gets squiggly lines under it. Which makes your documents look horrible when anyone who has Spell Check as you type enabled opens one of these documents.

In Word 2003, 2007 & 2010 I can stop proofing by selecting the code, double click on the proofing language in the program Status bar and reselect the language to use and click Do not check spelling or grammar. For some reason if you don’t reselect your language in Word 2007 and 2010 the Do not check spelling or grammar option isn’t applied – go figure. It took me a while to work this one out.

In PowerPoint 2010 and 2007 just choose Do  not check spelling and it works fine. In PowerPoint 2003 where I spent this morning, there’s actually a language entry for No Proofing.. so select that and your text won’t be spell checked.

Helen Bradley

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Word 2010 – print the current page

If you’re used to using Word you might remember that, when you want to print just the current page you need to click in the page and then choose to print it. The current page isn’t the one you are looking at – necessarily – it is the one where the insertion point is located.

Fast forward to Word 2010 – all of a sudden – all bets are off. When  you click File to move to the backstage view and click Print you see the print preview to your right. Whatever page shows there is the page that will be printed if you choose to print the current page. If that’s not the page you want to print, use the navigation tools to move to the  page to print and then click Print.

It’s smarter and it really is how it should work. It won’t cause problems for new users because they don’t know how Word used to work, it’s us old users who need to rethink the logic here. Lucky for us though the page where the insertion point was located is the  page that shows in Print preview by default.

Helen Bradley

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Problems with Excel formulas?

excel evaluate formula Problems with Excel formulas?If you are having difficulty understanding how a formula is calculating in Excel – perhaps because it appears to give you the wrong results - you can step through it to see how it is working.

To do this, select the cell containing the formula and choose Tools > Formula Auditing > Evaluate Formula – in Excel 2007 find the Evaluate Formula option on the Formulas tab.

Click Evaluate and each time you do this, a portion of the formula will be evaluated and you can see it at work.

Use the Step In and Step Out options to see the actual values in place of any appropriate cell references.

This step by step processing should show you what is happening in your formula allowing you to troubleshoot any difficulties with it.

Helen Bradley

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Create your own Excel startup page

Here’s how to create a cool startup page for Excel – it has links to all your favorite workbooks so you can click on any of them to immediately open that file.

excel step1 Create your own Excel startup page

Step 1

To a new workbook, add one picture for every workbook you want to link to your startup page by choosing Insert > Picture > ClipArt. Size and arrange the images neatly. Choose Tools > Options > View tab and disable Gridlines, Row & Column Headers, Horizontal Scroll bar, Vertical Scroll bar, and Sheet Tabs.

excel step2 Create your own Excel startup page

Step 2

Right click one image, choose Hyperlink and link to a workbook you work with regularly. Type a description of the workbook in the Screentip dialog. Link each image to a workbook. Protect the worksheet by choosing Tools > Protection > Protect Sheet and click Ok.

 Excel step3 Create your own Excel startup page

Step 3

Choose File > Save As > and select your XLSTART folder which is likely to be: C:\Documents and Settings\<username> \Application Data\Microsoft\Excel\XLStart. Name your file menu.xls, close it, exit and restart Excel. The menu workbook will appear every time you launch Excel – giving you one-click access to your favourite workbooks.

Helen Bradley

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Inserting text in an Outlook 2007 email

ol insert e1276051532626 Inserting text in an Outlook 2007 emailThe other day I came across an issue with Outlook which took quite a while to resolve and which really shouldn’t have done so.

In Outlook 2007, what I wanted to do was to insert an HTML page as a new email message. This is something that any organization running its own email mailing list may want to do.

Unfortunately, in Outlook 2007 there is no insert text option. You can attach things to outgoing emails, but on the face of it, you can’t insert them in the body of the email itself.

The solution is simple but, as I said, anything but obvious. To insert a file inside the body of an Outlook email message:

  1. from the Insert tab select Attach file.
  2. Browse to locate your file but don’t insert it at this stage. Instead, click the down-pointing arrow to the right of the Insert button.
  3. Look for the Insert As Text Option. This is what you need, click it and the file will be inserted as a text object in your Outlook email rather than being attached to it.

 It’s a problem which should be far easier than this to solve.

Helen Bradley