h1

Capture a large cursor with SnagIt

January 27, 2022

It’s not that I find a cursor (or mouse pointer) hard to see on the screen… or so I thought.

I’m doing some online Word training for a company soon and as I’ll be pointing at stuff on the screen on the Microsoft Teams call, I figured I should set my mouse pointer to be larger and a different colour so they can see it easily as I move it about. I changed it a few hours ago—and haven’t changed it back! It certainly makes finding and clicking things quicker, though the very large I-beam cursor is a bit of a nuisance when trying to select or edit text.

To change the mouse pointer size and colour in Windows 10: Mouse settings > Adjust Mouse and Cursor Size, then use the slider to adjust the size of the pointer; to change the colour, click the box with the rainbow colour wheel and then choose a colour.

I then tried to get a screenshot of a part of a Word screen, with the larger mouse pointer, but SnagIt changed it back to the standard size, though it did keep the colour change. It’s still hard to see on screen, even with that green

SnagIt screenshot showing mouse pointer in green but at standard size

That seemed strange so I retested it and there’s no way I could capture a large mouse pointer with SnagIt (I’m using the latest 2022 version). I logged a support ticket with the SnagIt people, as I suspect this was a bug. They got back to me within hours, with an explanation and an alternative.

Here’s their response (slightly edited):

I was able to reproduce your issue on my computer, so I reached out to a Snagit Lead to make sure this was intended behavior. Unfortunately, this is intended behavior due to how cursors work within Snagit. Snagit allows users to delete their cursor from a capture if needed, and this is possible because Snagit can only recognize a standard size cursor from Windows.

The strange thing I found which could serve as a workaround for you is that the cursor size AND color are preserved when doing a video recording in Snagit. You can take a short video capture with your custom cursor, then select “Save frame as”. You can see that the cursor in the video is still size 4, and it is still lime green! I know this isn’t ideal, but I thought I would share it with you in case it helps.

Based on this, I’ve listed a few ways you can capture a large cursor in a screenshot:

  • Use a different screen capture method/program, if you have one
  • Capture the screenshot in SnagIt without the cursor, then use the tools in SnagIt Editor to add a pointer or other highlight to the part you want to feature.
  • Use the video capture feature of SnagIt, then when you play it back, stop at the point you want to capture, then click the GIF or PNG icon to capture that frame (with the large cursor) as an image in SnagIt.

Video capture in SnagIt Editor showing the location of the GIF and PNG icons

My final result using SnagIt’s video capture then capturing a single frame:

SnagIt video capture of a single frame showing the larger cursor

[Links last checked January 2022]

h1

Change the mouse cursor size and colour for ease of finding it

January 27, 2022

It’s not that I found a cursor hard to see on the screen… or so I thought.

I’m presenting some online training for a company tomorrow and as I’ll be pointing at stuff on the screen, I figured I should set my mouse pointer to be larger and a different colour so they can see it easily. I changed it a few hours ago — and haven’t changed it back! It certainly makes finding and clicking things quicker, though the very large I-beam cursor is a bit of a nuisance when I need to type/edit.

If you want to try this, here’s where I changed it on Windows 10: Mouse Settings > Adjust Mouse and Cursor Size — I set mine to size 4, though 2 or 3 would’ve be fine too, and to a lime green colour.

(I was going to get a screenshot of it, but SnagIt reverted the cursor to the default size, though it did keep the colour change – I’ve logged a support ticket with the SnagIt people, as I suspect this is a bug)

h1

Windows: When shutdown doesn’t mean shutdown

January 21, 2022

Yesterday I learned that Windows’ ‘shutdown’ doesn’t actually shut down your PC or laptop under the default Windows 10 (and later?) settings. Instead, it puts the PC/laptop into a partial/deep hibernation state, ready for fast startup when you next press the power button. Over time, your computer can become sluggish or exhibit odd behaviour, so your best option then is to do a restart, as this shuts down all Windows services and restarts them from scratch. It seems this is why most IT helpdesk people often suggest restarting the computer before they try other possible solutions.

There are various ways to make your computer shut down fully:

  • Single instance: Press Shift as you click Shutdown. This forces a full shutdown, but you have to do it every time.
  • Permanent setting change: Change the setting for fast startup, which is turned on by default (Note: you may not be able to change this setting in a managed corporate environment):
    • Go to the Start button and type power then choose Power & Sleep Settings.
    • Under Related Settings, click Additional power settings.
    • On the Power Options window, click Choose what the power buttons do (on the left).
    • Clear the Turn on fast startup checkbox, then click Save Changes.

How do you know if your computer has fast startup activated? Well, you can check the setting (see the 2nd bullet above), or you can check Task Manager.

To check via Task Manager:

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and then click Task Manager.
  2. Click the Performance tab (click More Details if you don’t see tabs across the top of the Task Manager window).
  3. On the Performance tab, check the Up Time value below the graph—that will tell you how long your computer has actually been ‘on’ even when you thought it might have been shutdown fully (in dd:hh:mm:ss format). If it’s many days, then it may be time for a restart, or something more permanent, such as changing the fast startup setting.

Performance tab under Task Manager, with an arrow pointing to the Up Time value

 

See also:

[Links last check January 2022]

h1

Thwarted by technology requirements

January 16, 2022

Bottom line 1: Check an app’s operating system requirements against your device’s operating system version BEFORE you try to install apps. You may need to buy a new phone if your current one’s operating system can’t be upgraded.

Bottom line 2: The government and other organisations are locking out and marginalising many people by requiring them to use technology they may not be familiar with, may not own (or be able to afford to own), and may not already use or don’t want to use.

*******

Background

Brief summary: The Western Australian (WA) government will require proof of vaccination status for many establishments after 31 January 2022, including restaurants and cafes. They’ve spend a bucketload of $$$ on developing the ServiceWA app that will store such information and ultimately replace the SafeWA contact tracing check-in app and the G2G pass for travellers into the state once the borders open on 5 February 2022.

Because the ServiceWA app is a state thing and it has to link to some federal information (e.g. vaccination certificates are held by Medicare [federal]), the app was designed to link to your MyGovID and Medicare apps, both of which you need to install on your device before installing and connecting the SafeWA app. The steps are many and convoluted and I’m sure will put many people off using the ServiceWA app as a result.

Issues

On my Facebook page, I raised several issues with these apps in general. Even though I was able to successfully link everything together for myself, this will NOT be the case for many. Here’s a quick summary of the issues:

  • If you have an Android device (that’s all we have so I can’t speak for any ‘i’), you first need to have a Google account to access the apps in the Google Play Store.
  • If you don’t already have MyGovID and Medicare set up, you have 20+ steps to do. They warn you this will take at least 30 minutes. Many will bail before completing the sign up process. Way too confusing!!!! (see the Further Information section for links to the steps)
  • If you haven’t set up MyGovID before, you will need at least two pieces of ID (e.g. passport, drivers licence) that you can either enter manually in the apps or scan and upload.
  • Oh, and you also need a smartphone with a recent operating system!!! And a data plan (at least WiFi). Some people won’t have a smartphone, others will have a phone but it’s too old, some don’t have/use the internet in any way for whatever reason (age, impaired ability etc.), others may have a phone for just a phone and not have a data plan or want one. The MyGovID app requires Android 7.0 or higher and phones just a few years old do not have that (ask me how I know…). Which means buying a new phone!
  • Setting up the apps requires the user to have their OWN email address and OWN device (yes, I confirmed this with ServiceWA). So pensioners, for example, who have a shared phone and shared email address will either have to use paper documentation to enter a café or buy another phone and get another email address and then get someone to help them set all this up. I feel for the hospitality staff who will be inundated with very confused and angry patrons. So many questions… so few answers.
  • You will still be able to check-in using a paper copy of your vaccination certificate. However, getting a copy isn’t simple if you don’t have a computer or a MyGov account. Paper documentation will still be accepted, but again, the boffins in these government IT departments seem to think everyone has easy access to a computer and printer and knows how to use one, AND has a MyGov account so they can access their Medicare records to get the PDF of their vaccination certificate. If you don’t then your vaccination provider, such as a GP or pharmacist (NOT a vax clinic), can print your immunisation history statement for you. Or you can call the Australian Immunisation Register (1800 653 809) and ask for your statement or certificate to be posted to you—this can take up to 14 days to arrive in the post.
  • There’s a massive assumption that people have the technology and ability and willingness to use apps. The exclusion of those who are elderly or incapacitated in some way (and there are MANY ways you can be incapacitated) or who cannot afford a mobile phone and the assumption that everyone has an individual phone AND that phone has a data plan (and therefore apps) AND has an individual email address AND can use all this stuff is a false one. So, my 90+ year old parents will be carrying their printed vax certificates with them to their local coffee shop come 5 Feb.

Further information

[Links last checked January 2022]

 

h1

Interesting summary of video statistics

January 4, 2022

TechSmith, the makers of Snagit and Camtasia software (I use both), have done an extensive survey into online video usage, available here: https://www.techsmith.com/blog/video-statistics/

In summary:

  • 71% of people reported watching two or more instructional videos per week (up 33% compared to 2018)
  • 43% of viewers prefer instructional and informational videos between three to six minutes in length, while another 15% preferred videos up to nine minutes
  • Online search continues to be the most common way (45%) for users to find instructional and informational video content
  • Video title and description are the most common reason why viewers choose a video to watch
  • 92% of ‘great videos’ came in below the 20-minute mark.

There is a lot more to unpack from their research and it’s a ‘must read’ for anyone creating video content.

 

h1

2021 blog statistics

January 1, 2022

In early August 2021, this blog hit 17 million views, the total since I started blogging very late in 2007. Some 1.57 million views occurred just in 2021, a tad more than in 2020 and 2019 (both ~1.56 million), indicating that the effect of COVID lockdowns, working from home etc. seems to have no effect on my blog’s statistics. These figures don’t include any visits I made to my own blog (yes, I use my own blog for stuff I can’t remember—I consider it my memory bank).

17,589,616 views from late 2007 to 31 December 2021

I only wrote 56 blog posts in 2021, so many of these visits were to posts I’ve written in previous years. I’ve written 1,973 posts since 2008, with an average word count per post in 2021 of 534 words.

Despite those large numbers of views, just under 900 people subscribe to this blog (you can subscribe by clicking the ‘Sign me up!’ button on the right sidebar and entering your email address to receive an email alert each time I post a new article), and I have just over 950 Twitter followers for @cybertext. From these figures, I have to assume most of my blog’s millions of visitors are ‘hit and run’ readers—those who have a problem with Word or whatever, find one of my posts via Google etc., read the post, get what they came for (or not), and leave without checking out anything else.

Where do these readers come from? Not surprisingly for an English language blog, most of my visitors in 2021 were from English-speaking countries, with a heavy dominance from the US (just under 500,000), followed by India, the UK, Canada, and Australia (all between ~98,000 and 164,000). Since WordPress started recording this information (not necessarily when I started blogging in 2008), most visitors have come from the US (~6.3 million), followed by the UK, Australia, and India (about 3.8 million combined). The first map shows country of origin visits for 2021; the second, for all time (well, just since WordPress started collecting these stats). NOTE: These stats represent where WordPress thinks these readers are located based on their IP addresses—anyone using a VPN to mask their location would be listed under the country that they chose in their VPN settings. (Click on images to view them full size)

Map and list of top 10 countries where readers came from in 2021

Map and list of top 10 countries where readers come from (since WordPress starting recording this information)

Below are some graphs and tables of the 2021 statistics for this blog, as well as some comparative ones for ‘all time’ (‘all time’ is actually 2008 to 2021 — I started this blog very late in 2007, but didn’t really start posting until January 2008, so the 2007 statistics are too low to be significant).

Total views by month/year

Table of statistics showing the numbers of visitors by month and year since 2008

Column graph showing total number of views for each year from 2008 to 2021

Average daily views

Graph showing average number of views per day over each year from 2008 to 2020. The highest was about 5500 in 2015, and about 4300 per day in 2021

The average views per day increased a little in 2021 (about 4,300 per day) compared to 2020 (~4,000 per day). The graphs above and below are for the full seven days per week, though most views occur during the five business days of the working week, probably reflecting the need to find answers to Word questions and the like when people are stuck with a problem at work. Weekends and major public holidays (particularly in the US) see a noticeable drop in views, as does the December/January holiday period and the northern hemisphere summer (July/August). Views were highest in the first 6 months of the year, dropping for the northern hemisphere summer and not recovering as much they usually do in September to November (possible influence of COVID ‘fatigue’ with work despite vaccinations, people changing jobs etc.?)

Graph showing average number of views per day for 2021. The highest months were in the first half of the year (all over 4500, with February over 5000)

Top 20 posts

Table listing the top 20 posts of all time and the top 20 for 2021. Posts that are in both lists are highlighted in blue.

Some posts are just more popular than others! Those highlighted in blue appear in both lists — the top 20 posts of all time (2008–2021) on the left, and 2021-only on the right. Those without highlighting only appear in one of the top 20 lists. The numbers to the right of each title are the number of total views for that post in the time period.

Long tail

As expected, there’s a significant ‘long tail’ for this blog’s views. The top 20 posts (each has more than ~19,000 views) in 2021 garnered the most views, with the top 5 (>70,000 views) clearly ahead of the others. Everything else was a poor cousin to these top posts—combined, the bottom 15 of this group didn’t have as many views as the top 5 combined.

Graph showing the 'long tail' of the top 20 posts in 2021. The top 5 of these had more views than the other top 15 combined

When I extracted out the views just for the top posts for 2008–2021 (using 100,000 views as the lower limit), the long tail was very evident. The top 5 posts for all time garnered the most views, with posts 6 to 44 tailing off and flattening out. Remember, I’ve written some 1973 posts, and this graph only represents the 44 posts that have had more than 100,000 views since 2008—most posts have far fewer than that and aren’t represented in this graph. (For perspective, the least-viewed post that WordPress has stats for [#492 of the 1973 ] has had about 1,400 views, while the single most-viewed post has had 1.05 million views.)

Graph of the long tail of the 44 posts with more than 100,000 views, over all time. The top 6 posts have had between 400,000 and 1.05 million views.

So, there you have it. Fourteen years of blogging, 1973 blog posts published, and just over 17.5 million views (with ~1.57 million of those in the past 12 months).

I guess I must be doing something right, even though the monetary return is close to zero. I pay an annual fee to WordPress to NOT show advertisements on this blog, and I refuse to try to ‘monetize’ my blog posts by hosting them elsewhere and running ads—I don’t like ads cluttering up and getting in the way of good content and potentially trapping readers into clicking on them, and I suspect my readers don’t like them either. Instead of ads, I have an option for readers to donate to this blog’s expenses if anything I’ve written has got them out of a bind, saved them time (and therefore money), or helped them be more efficient. In 2021 I received perhaps the equivalent of one week’s worth of groceries in donations. I use that money to pay my annual bills to WordPress to keep this blog free of ads and to have the convenience of adjusting the style (CSS) of this blog.

As for what happens in 2022, I’ll continue to write posts sporadically—I still have a day job that I’m committed to, and paid work always comes before unpaid work.

Stay safe, and remember the three Ws: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

See also:

[Links last checked January 2022]

h1

Word: Italicise numbers inside parentheses

December 2, 2021

In a comment on another blog post, one of my readers asked if there was an easy way to find all numbers and change them to italic. Well, there is (Option 1 below), but there was a further complication—some of these numbers were a range separated by a dash, and some were separated by commas. For example:

  • (123456)
  • (1-4)
  • (1, 5)
  • (1, 5, 12)

I couldn’t find an easy way to do this all at once, but you can do it by running several wildcard find and replace routines. If someone else has an easier or more elegant solution, please add it in the comments.

NOTES:

  • Tip: Just in case anything goes wrong, make a copy of your document before you start and do this in the copy until you are satisfied it works as you expect.
  • Tip: Only click Replace all once you are confident that it works.
  • Numbers are whole positive integers—no decimals, no ordinals, no negative numbers.
  • ‘Dash’ is the standard hyphen character on the keyboard, NOT an en or em dash, or a minus symbol.
  • All find and replace routines are done with Use wildcards turned on (Ctrl+h, click More, select Use wildcards).
  • Tip: Copy the find strings from here and paste into your Word find field.

Option 1: Find all numbers and change to italics

  1. Find: ([0-9])
  2. Replace: \1
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: EVERY number in the document will be italicised.

Option 2: Find whole numbers only inside parentheses and change to italics

For example: (123456), (789), (23)

  1. Find: \(([0-9]@)\)
  2. Replace: ^&
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: The numbers AND their surrounding parentheses will be italicised. See Option 6 for how to change the parentheses back to normal text.

Option 3: Find whole numbers separated with a single dash inside parentheses and change to italics

For example: (12-3456), (7-89), (2-3) [there are NO spaces before or after the dash]

  1. Find: \(([0-9]{1,9})(-)([0-9]{1,9})\)
  2. Replace: ^&
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: The number ranges, the dashes, AND their surrounding parentheses will be italicised. See Option 6 for how to change the dash and the parentheses back to normal text.

Option 4: Find 2 numbers separated by a comma and a space, inside parentheses, and change to italics

For example: (1, 2), (25, 67)

  1. Find: \([0-9]{1,9}, [0-9]{1,9}\)
  2. Replace: ^&
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: The numbers, the comma, the space, AND their surrounding parentheses will be italicised. See Option 6 for how to change the comma, space, and the parentheses back to normal text.

Option 5: Find 3 numbers separated by commas and spaces, inside parentheses, and change to italics

For example: (1, 2, 3), (25, 67, 345)

  1. Find: \(([0-9]{1,9}, [0-9]{1,9}, [0-9]{1,9})\)
  2. Replace: ^&
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: The numbers, comma, spaces, AND their surrounding parentheses will be italicised. See Option 6 for how to change the commas, spaces, and the parentheses back to normal text.

Option 6: Change all commas, spaces, dashes, and parentheses back to normal text

  1. Find: ([, \(\)-]) (Note: there’s a space after the comma in this string)
  2. When in the Find field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.
  3. Replace: ^&
  4. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Not Italic.

 

h1

PowerPoint: Remove alt text but preserve links when creating a PDF

December 1, 2021

One of my clients had a problem. When he created a PDF from his PowerPoint presentation, the PDF displayed the auto-generated alt text for each picture in his slide deck. He’s a geologist so some of the alt text for the images of rock formations was just totally wrong (see the second half of this blog post for examples of weird auto-generated alt text: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2020/07/25/word-adding-alt-text-to-images/). He didn’t want the alt text, but found that if he turned off the accessibility features in Acrobat, his URL links no longer worked either. He wanted the links, just not the alt text.

I figured out how to achieve what he wanted (i.e. no alt text and clickable URL links) in PowerPoint before you create the PDF. Here’s how:

  1. Click on an image in PowerPoint.
  2. Go the the Picture Format tab.
  3. Click Alt Text in the Accessibility group. This displays the Alt Text panel, populated with some auto-generated text that Microsoft THINKS describes the image.
  4. You can now either:
    • click the Mark as decorative checkbox, OR
    • clear the auto-generated alt text and leave it blank (or type a space).
  5. When you’ve finished your PowerPoint slide deck, go to File > Save as Adobe PDF. The resulting PDF should preserve any URLs you have, and there should be no alt text for any of the images you cleared it from.

A note about alt text: Alt text is absolutely necessary for those with vision issues who use screen readers to navigate computers, website, and digital files, so if your images are of something (and not just decorative), it’s best to add your own alt text describing what’s in the image. Certainly NEVER leave it up to Microsoft’s artificial intelligence as could get some very weird results.

h1

LG CI OLED TV and Foxtel Ultra HD (4K)

November 21, 2021

Another blog post for future me… and for anyone else in this situation.

I’d heard about a bug in LG C1 OLED TVs made from Sept 2021 that didn’t allow 4K content to play in 4K (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifkarBLgnWw). The gamers were up in arms. But as I’m not a gamer, I didn’t think it applied to me. However, I do have Foxtel and an IQ4 box, which is designed for 4K/ultra HD. So I checked if I could play a 4K movie from the dedicated Foxtel channel for these. Nope. I got an error message that my TV was incompatible (error F0446, details and troubleshooting here: https://www.foxtel.com.au/support/technical-support/error-code-troubleshooting/iq4/f0446.html). So I waited for the software update to roll out from LG and tried again. I still got the same error message.

I went back to Vincent Teoh’s original video (Vincent is just awesome, and funny too!) and found he had created a new one just for the bug fix (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI-ebazGJ4I), where he said you may have to change a couple of other things on your TV too. I tried those but still kept getting 4K error message on Foxtel. Based on previous experiences I really didn’t want to call Foxtel support…

So I went back to Foxtel’s troubleshooting pages for this error and stared working my way through the suggested solutions. Some I just couldn’t do on my TV as I couldn’t find the relevant settings. But there were also some suggested changes to the Foxtel IQ4 box you could make through Advanced Settings, and it was there I found the solution under their Step 3 (https://www.foxtel.com.au/support/technical-support/error-code-troubleshooting/iq4/f0446/connected-to-tv.html).

My picture settings were set to 1080p, so I changed it to 2160p (as per Step 3) and as soon as I did, I could view the ultra HD Foxtel channels!

h1

Impact as a verb versus affect and effect

November 13, 2021

I’ve had the delightful privilege of hearing Canadian James Harbeck speak at several ACES (editing) conferences in the US. His passion is language and its origins, and his presentations have left me in awe of that passion, his knowledge and understanding, as well as his ability to speak in old and middle English to illustrate his points. So it was with delight that I read his recent post on using impact as a verb: https://sesquiotic.com/2021/11/09/impact/

As someone who edits environmental impact statements, plans, and reports, impact is a word that’s used OFTEN. I certainly don’t have the problem with it that other editors and writers have, and in many cases, in the context of the documents I edit, affect or effect just wouldn’t work.

If you want to spend a couple of hours learning about the quirks of language, take a look at some of James’ other posts. There’s an index to his posts on specific words here: https://sesquiotic.com/word-tasting-note-index/ and to his articles here: https://sesquiotic.com/article-index/