h1

Word: Find text with angled brackets and replace the text with a character style

November 2, 2019

Here’s one I heard of today, and how I solved it. The person has a Word document with various words and phrases surrounded by double angled brackets, as in <<this is my phrase>>. They want to apply a character style to any text surrounded by angle brackets, and delete those brackets.

I always like a challenge like this, so here’s my solution:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace window.
  2. Click More.
  3. Select the Use wildcards checkbox.
  4. In the Find what field, type: (\<\<)(*)(\>\>)
  5. In the Replace with field, type: \2
  6. Click Format, then select Style.
  7. Choose the character style you want to apply (character styles are indicated with a lowercase ‘a’ to their left), then click OK.
  8. The character style’s name should be listed directly underneath the Find what box—make sure that this is the case.
  9. Click Find Next, then click Replace if you are satisfied that the correct phrasal structure has been selected.
  10. Assuming that replace worked as you wanted it to, and you are confident the result looks as you expect, click Replace All. (If in doubt, keep clicking Find Next, then Replace.)

How this works:

  • The Find is broken up into three elements, each surrounded by parentheses:
    • The first element contains the opening two angled brackets.
    • The second contains an asterisk wildcard character for any character and any number of characters.
    • The third contains the closing two angled brackets.
  • In the first and third elements of the Find, the angled brackets are each preceded by a \ because an angle bracket is a special character in wildcard searches and therefore must be ‘escaped’ so that Word treats it as a normal character. The ‘escape’ character is the \
  • In the Replace, \2 tells Word to replace the second element (the text and all characters between the angled brackets) with itself (i.e. make no changes), and to apply the character style you chose to that replaced text.
  • By omitting \1 and \3 in the Replace (representing the first and third elements of the Find), Word will effectively delete the opening and closing angled brackets.
h1

Word: Find and highlight words of two or more capitals

October 31, 2019

I previously wrote about using wildcards in Word to find abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms that used two or more capital letters, but that post didn’t address how to highlight these so that you can identify them easily when compiling a list of abbreviations. This one does.

  1. Make sure you have a highlight colour selected (Home tab, Font group) that isn’t used for anything else.
  2. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace window.
  3. Click More to show further options.
  4. Select the Use wildcards checkbox.
  5. In the Find what field, type: (<[A-Z]{2,}>)
  6. In the Replace with field, type:  \1
  7. With your cursor still in the Replace with field, click Format (bottom of the window) then Highlight. The word ‘Highlight’ should display immediately below the Replace with field.
  8. Click Find next to find the first string of two or more capitals.
  9. If this is an acronym, abbreviation, or initialism, click Replace. The term remains the same but should now be highlighted in the colour you chose in Step 1.
  10. Repeats Steps 8 and 9 to jump to and/or highlight the next string of two or more caps.
  11. Optional but not recommended: If you are confident that the only strings of capital letters in your document are acronyms etc., then click Replace All. Note: Every string of capitals will be highlighted, even those that are repeats of ones you highlighted earlier and those that aren’t acronyms etc. (e.g. document numbers, fully capped words).

How this works:

  • The opening and closing parentheses contain the Find command and allow you to reference it in the Replace.
  • The opening and closing arrow brackets (< and >) specify that you want a single whole word, not parts of a word. Without these, you would find each set of caps (e.g. in the string ABCDEF, you would find ABCDEF, then BCDEF, then CDEF, then DEF, then EF, before moving on to the next set of caps).
  • [A-Z] specifies that you want a range (the [ ] part) of caps that fall somewhere in the alphabet (A-Z). If you only wanted capped words that started with, say, H through to M, then you’d change the range to [H-M] and all other capped words starting with other letters would be ignored.
  • {2,} means you want to find capped words with at least two letters in the specified range (i.e. A-Z). If you only wanted to find two- and three-letter capped words, then you’d change this to {2,3}, and all capped word of four or more letters would be ignored. By not specifying a number after the comma, the ‘find’ will find capped words of any length containing at least two letters.
  • The \1 in the Replace and ‘Highlight’ below that field tells Word to replace what was found with itself, and to highlight it with the selected highlight colour.

Note: This technique does NOT find initialisms separated by periods or any other punctuation; it will find UNICEF but not U.N.I.C.E.F.

 

h1

Generate BAS data using a MYOB (v19) report

October 22, 2019

This post is for me, in case anything gets messed up in the future, like it did today. I use MYOB AccountRight Plus v19, so if you use a different version, this may not work for you.

What happened

I went to generate my quarterly BAS using the BASLink method I’ve used since I started using MYOB. But instead of getting all the fields filled with figures, I got nothing. Blank fields everywhere. Something wasn’t right. After panicking a bit (being late with a tax office payment is not my idea of a good time!), I remembered that I got a new computer back in August. Aha! I bet something didn’t link as it should. Now all this is just a few short sentences, but it was about an hour of time, and about 10 years off my life!

What I did

I emailed my accountant to see if she could help, and while I was waiting for a response, I hunted out old backup files looking for the *.bas files for the BASLink setup. I found them but nothing I did worked—I still got blank fields in my BAS. Then I found this web page, which gave me the clue I’d been looking for: https://help.myob.com/wiki/display/ar/BASlink+FAQs

I’d been looking for a way to link the setup files via MYOB itself, but you have to do it via BASLink, which means running BASLink, ignoring all the blank fields and going to File > Setup & Links WITHIN the BASLink program. Once I’d correctly linked the old files, everything worked, and I breathed a very large sigh of relief.

An alternative

Meantime, my accountant got back to me just as I’d solved the problem telling me that there’s another way to generate the BAS data via standard MYOB reports, so here are those steps if I ever need them in the future:

  1. Go to Reports > GST/Sales Tax.
  2. Select the GST [Summary – Cash] report.
  3. Click Customise and set the dates for the quarter.
  4. While in the Customise window, also select the tax codes to report (in my case, just GST).
  5. Click Display. This gives you the totals that go into the various fields on the BAS:
    • Sale value = G1
    • Purchase value = G11
    • Tax collected = 1A
    • Tax paid = 1B
  6. What it doesn’t give is the PAYG tax information, so for that go to Reports > Payroll.
  7. Select the Activity Summary report under Employees.
  8. Click Customise and set the dates for the quarter, if not already set.
  9. Leave Employees set to All.
  10. Click Display. This gives you the totals that go into the various fields on the BAS:
    • Wages = W1
    • Taxes = W2, W5, and 4.

 

h1

F12 to save as

September 24, 2019

I hate the way Microsoft Office has been removing (or more likely, hiding) functions that power users have used for many years. It smacks of ‘dumbing down’, to me.

Office 365 programs allow you to ‘save as’ but to get the full set of ‘save as’ options (such as the settings under the Tools drop-down arrow) you have to click the More options link under the file path where they want you to save the document.

There’s a quicker way if you have a keyboard with all the function keys—press F12 to open the Save As dialog box. Done.

(By the way, F12 to ‘save as’ works with many other programs too.)

h1

Different interpretations

September 24, 2019

I’ve lived all my life in Australia (barring one year when I lived in Canada), and thus have been covered by Medicare, Australia’s health system. One of things that’s always been a feature of Medicare is the need to get a referral from a GP to see a specialist (I can’t remember if this was ever not the case, as it’s been so entrenched for much of my working life [Medicare officially started in 1984]). I say it’s a ‘feature’ though it’s often seen as a bug by the public, especially those with long-term conditions that need specialist treatment.

What the referral system does is stop Jo Public from calling a specialist for an appointment for every tiny little thing — it acts as a filter to stop overloading specialists with matters that can be dealt with by a GP. However, it does require a visit to the GP (at normal consultation rates) to get the referral, as well as the cost of the specialist if you are referred. So some people rightly feel like they’re paying twice.

And so to interpretation… In all the time Medicare has been in existence (45 years), I’ve always assumed that the date on the referral letter from the GP was the date the referral (typically 12 months) started from.

But not so, as my GP informed me yesterday when I asked him to post-date a referral closer to the time of the specialist’s appointment. It seems that post-dating a referral like this is deemed fraud in Medicare’s eyes, and then my GP explained that the date of referral starts from the date you see the specialist after being referred, NOT the date on the referral letter!

Well, call me surprised! He told me that many medical receptionists get this wrong too, which may have contributed to my belief that the date of the referral letter was the date the 12 months starts from.

I checked the Medicare website and it clearly states ‘date you see the specialist’ under the ‘Referral periods from a GP to a specialist’ subsection on this page: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/organisations/health-professionals/subjects/referring-and-requesting-medicare-services

[Link last checked September 2019]

h1

20 years on

August 24, 2019

Things just slip by… I thought it was 20 years this month since I left the corporate world and went out on my own as a freelancer. Yes, it is 20 years, but the anniversary date was LAST month according to my business name registration certificate.

I actually started working as a freelancer in early July 1999 doing SAP documentation for the now-defunct WMC (Western Mining Corporation). And in the past 20 years most of my work has involved tech writing and editing for software and resources companies, often in combination.

Starting my own company was a HUGE and scary leap after <mumble> years as a full-time employee for software companies and as a secondary school teacher-librarian and deputy principal. But financially and psychologically it was the best thing I ever did—not having to manage anyone except myself was such a relief after being in middle management for too many years.

Even better, I’ve worked from home via the internet for the past 12 years. There’s not a lot I miss about working in an office, but I do miss some of the camaraderie of drinks after work, lunchtime chats, etc. with work colleagues. I certainly don’t miss meetings, office politics, and the regular ‘Can you just help me with this <oh-so-very-urgent problem>?’ questions (Tip: The word ‘just’ in such circumstances is loaded! It NEVER takes the minute or so you’re told it will.) I also don’t miss the pressure of having to fit into an office of 30-somethings when I’m well past that age! Or commuting, or the $$$ spent on lunches, office clothing, parking, etc.

Will I still be doing this in another 20 years? Probably not, but who knows!

h1

Outlook 365: Temperature on the calendar

August 20, 2019

I noticed this morning that today’s temperature is displayed at the top of the calendar view in Outlook 365. The problem was that the temperature was for somewhere hot (and in Fahrenheit), and I’m in the middle of winter (and use Celsius)! So Outlook obviously wasn’t taking any of the Windows region settings into account.

A quick search on Google and I found out how to change the temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius (File > Options > Calendar, scroll to the bottom for the weather settings) (found here: https://www.howtogeek.com/367936/how-to-automatically-show-the-weather-in-the-outlook-calendar/).

However, the instructions for changing the location by clicking the little arrow next to the default Washington DC location didn’t work for me—I couldn’t see even see ‘Washington DC’ let alone the arrow. I have Outlook open in my portrait-oriented monitor, so I moved it to my landscape monitor and resized the window. Ah! now I could see both Washington DC and the arrow and could change my location. When I moved it back into the portrait monitor and resized the window, I lost the location information and the drop-down arrow, but the temperature values (and in Celsius) for my location was now displayed correctly.

I call that a win!