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What year is it?

February 3, 2016

I spotted this notice on a website I visited today (Feb 2016). I guess it takes some organizations a long time to adapt to change… (BTW, Microsoft announced end-of-life support for IE 10 in January 2016 [http://www.infoworld.com/article/3020534/security/microsoft-will-end-support-for-internet-explorer8-9-and-10.html])

browser_what_year

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PowerPoint: How to show another app

January 5, 2016

This post is for me so I don’t forget what to do!

In days gone by, if you did a presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint (for Windows) and you linked to another app for demo purposes (e.g. Microsoft Word), then clicking the link would open the app on the screen, covering the presentation until you pressed Alt+Tab to return to the slide show.

However, in more recent versions of PowerPoint (2010 at least and later), this function seems to be gone when you connect your laptop to an external monitor, such as a projection unit. Instead, you get ‘presentation mode’ on your laptop and the presentation on the big screen, but when you click a link to display another app, nothing happens on the big screen, even though you get the linked app showing on your laptop.

This is disconcerting as you think the audience can see what you see, and frustrating as you try to figure out how to get back from the presentation to show the app on the big screen, then back to the presentation again. I’ve been caught with it in the past three presentations I’ve done, and it totally throws you off your spiel, and takes up precious time as you (or a techie) try to get you where you need to go.

Because I’m doing at least a couple more presentations this year, I decided to figure out the best combination of settings to use to display everything I need on the big screen. I connected my laptop to an external monitor and played with the settings to get a combination that works for me.

Here are my settings for future reference (do these in order):

  1. Windows 8.1: Control Panel > Display > Project to a Second Screen > Duplicate
  2. PowerPoint 2013: Slide Show > Monitor — set to Primary
  3. PowerPoint 2013: Slide Show — turn OFF Use presentation mode

What this does is duplicate exactly what’s on your laptop on the big screen. The upside is that you can now click a link in your PowerPoint and open another app and the audience will see it. The downside is that everything on your desktop, task bar etc. can be seen by the audience, so the usual caveats for presenting from many years ago still apply (i.e. don’t have anything on the screen that’s private!).

[If you have an easier way to do this, please share in the Comments]

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What a rip-off!

January 2, 2016

It’s like the airlines WANT local air services to fail…

What am I talking about? The exorbitant costs of flying between Perth, Western Australia and other locations within Western Australia — exorbitant compared to the costs to fly to the main cities on the east coast of Australia and to Los Angeles. Such charges mean people will choose not to fly to closer destinations and will either drive or not visit at all. And then the airlines will complain that they don’t get enough patronage and will close routes; these tourist destinations will complain that not enough people come to visit to make their industry sustainable; and investors won’t build hotels etc. at these destinations as not enough people go there. It’s a vicious circle.

In yesterday’s West Australian newspaper, Virgin Australia took out a full-page to advertise a fare sale to six destinations — Geraldton and Broome (both within my state); Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane; and Los Angeles. At first glance these fares seem like a good deal, but when you do the math, there’s something decidely dodgy going on.

Based on the fares and the distance to each destination, a one-way flight to Geraldton costs more than ten times the cost of a flight to Los Angeles! The table below shows the approximate distance to each destination; the one-way airfare advertised by Virgin today; my calculation of the cost per kilometre (red is bad, green is similar to the LA cost); what the airfare would cost if it was based on the same per kilometre rate as the LA fare; and what the difference is between the advertised cost and the cost per kilometre for that distance.

flight_costs

If the flights from Perth to Geraldton and Broome reflected the 4c/km of the flights (yes, you have to change planes at Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane) from Perth to Los Angeles, then, at approx $15 and $70 respectively, many more people would be likely to visit those destinations for a holiday, thus injecting huge amounts of money into those economies. If you fly, there’s a good chance you’ll rent a car/use a taxi, spend several nights in accommodation, spend money at restaurants and in shops, visit tourist destinations, etc. If you live in Perth, why would you fly to Broome for $199 (one-way), when you can fly across the continent to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne for $10 less each way? Every time someone in our local tourist industry sees ads like this, they must have moments of quiet desperation and frustration, and must wonder why they stay in the industry when the monetary attraction to travel further afield is so great. (And no, I won’t even mention the fares to Bali from Perth…)

Yes, I know that the real cost of a flight is more than just the cost per kilometre, and that it costs a lot more just to get off the ground and back onto it than it does to be in the air, and that different aircraft have different fixed costs. I don’t know these costs so I haven’t factored them in. But based on the costs that I do know and can calculate, we’re being penalised if we want to fly within our own state.

It just doesn’t make sense.

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2015 blog statistics

January 1, 2016

Sometime during 2015, this blog broke through the 6 and 7 million views since I started blogging in 2008 — I didn’t even notice until now! By 31 December 2015, it had had more than 7.4 million views. Some 2 million views (more than one-third) occurred just in 2015. 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 wrote far fewer blog posts in 2015 (less than 50), so many of these visits were to posts I’ve written in previous years. I’ve written just under 1700 blog posts since 2008.

Surprisingly, I only have 454 subscribers (you can subscribe by clicking the button on the right sidebar and entering your email address) who have signed up to receive email alerts each time I post a new article (and 699 Twitter followers for @cybertext), so I have to assume most readers 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.

Here are some graphs and tables for the 2015 statistics for this blog, as well as some comparative ones for ‘all time’ (‘all time’ is actually 2008 to 2015 — I started this blog very late in 2007, but didn’t really start posting until January 2008, so the 2007 statistics are so low as to be insignificant).

Total views by month/year

2015_stats_total_views

2015_stats_02_total_views_by_year

Average daily views

2015_stats_03_avg_daily_views_by_mth

The average views per day have increased a lot — from between 3500 and 5500 per month in 2014 (average per day throughout the year = 4350), to mostly between 5000 and 6000 in 2015 (average per day throughout the year = 5533). 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. The weekends and major public holidays (particularly in the US and especially in November and December) see a notable drop in views.

2015_stats_04_avg_daily_views_by_yr

Top 20 posts

2015_stats_05_top_20_posts

Some posts are just more popular than others! Those 12 highlighted in blue appear in both lists — the top 20 posts of all time (2008-2015) on the left, and 2015 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 (all have 20,000 views or more) garnered the most views. Everything else was a poor cousin to these top posts.

When I extracted out the views just for the top posts for 2008-2015 (i.e. >20,000 views each) and the top 20 for 2015 only (both below), the long tail was very evident. Again, the top 15 posts for all time garnered the most views, with posts 15 through to 87 tailing off and flattening out. And for the 2015 view, the top four posts garnered the most views, then tapered off significantly after that.

2015_stats_06_top_87_posts_long_tail

2015_stats_07_top_20_posts_long_tail

So, there you have it. Eight years of blogging, 1691 blog posts published, and 7.4 million views (with more than 2 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 (I wouldn’t get any return from these even if I allowed them), 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 2015 I received perhaps the equivalent of one hour’s paid work in donations… I use that money to pay my annual bill to WordPress to keep this blog free of ads and to have the convenience of adjusting the style (CSS) of this blog.

As in 2015, I’ll be writing posts sporadically in 2016 — I still have a day job that I’m committed to, and paid work always comes before unpaid work.

See also:

[Links last checked January 2016]

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Word: Find and highlight multiple words at once

November 6, 2015

This is a variation on the multiple find/replace macro covered here: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/word-macro-to-run-multiple-wildcard-find-and-replace-routines/. I suggest you read that post first (and test it) before attempting this one. This post assumes you can already do what’s in that earlier post.

Scenario

The scenario for this one is a little different — the author wanted to find various words in a document and highlight them for probable change. As there were MANY documents she had to process, she needed an easy way to find these words and highlight them. She didn’t want to change them at this stage. The words related to project names, company names, facility names, document number prefixes, etc. One project’s documents were to be the basis of a set of documents for another project in the same company, so one of the tasks was to ‘personalize’ the copies of the original project’s documents with the names used by the new project.

Solution

Although there may be several ways you can do this, I decided to stick with what I already knew. I figured that using a variation of the ReplaceTableWithList macro (as discussed here: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/word-macro-to-run-multiple-wildcard-find-and-replace-routines/) and a new table called by that macro variation should solve it. And it did.

Step 1: Create your find/replace table

  1. Start a new Word document, and create a two-column table in it.
  2. In the left column, type in the words/phrases you want to find, each on a different row.
  3. In the right column, type \1. (This means that the wildcard find/replace will replace what was found with itself — remember, you’re only trying to identify the words that *may* need changing at this point, not changing them.)
  4. Save the document to this folder, noting the name of the file as you’ll need that later:
    C:\Users\<your_username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\STARTUP.

Step 2: Set up the macro to work with the table

Add the macro below to an existing document, or better, an existing template, or even better, a central macros template that loads whenever you open Word.

Once you’ve added it, change the line that starts with sFname and has the file path — that path points to MY file on MY computer. You need to change it to YOUR file name and YOUR file path.

NOTE: Copy all the code below to the clipboard — it goes off the page, so don’t type it out as you’ll miss some of it or could make a typo.

Sub ReplaceFromTableListName()
' from Doug Robbins, Word MVP, Microsoft forums, Feb 2015, based on another macro written by Graham Mayor, Aug 2010
Dim oChanges As Document, oDoc As Document
Dim oTable As Table
Dim oRng As Range
Dim rFindText As Range, rReplacement As Range
Dim i As Long
Dim sFname As String
'Change the path in the line below to reflect the name and path of the table document
sFname = "C:\Users\rhonda\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\STARTUP\find_and_replace_routines_names_macro.docx"
Set oDoc = ActiveDocument
Set oChanges = Documents.Open(FileName:=sFname, Visible:=False)
Set oTable = oChanges.Tables(1)

' Make sure highlight is set to the colour you want, e.g. wdYellow, wdBrightGreen, wdPink, wdTurquoise
Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdTurquoise

For i = 1 To oTable.Rows.Count
 Set oRng = oDoc.Range
 Set rFindText = oTable.Cell(i, 1).Range
 rFindText.End = rFindText.End - 1
 Set rReplacement = oTable.Cell(i, 2).Range
 rReplacement.End = rReplacement.End - 1
 Selection.HomeKey wdStory
 With oRng.Find
 .ClearFormatting
 .Replacement.ClearFormatting
 .MatchWildcards = True
 .Text = rFindText.Text
 .Replacement.Text = rReplacement.Text
 .Replacement.Highlight = True
 .Forward = True
 .Wrap = wdFindContinue
 .Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
 End With
Next i
oChanges.Close wdDoNotSaveChanges
End Sub

Step 3: Test that it works

After setting up the ReplaceFromTableListName macro (above), run it on a test document — copy an existing document and test on the copy to make sure you don’t mess up anything.

NOTES:

  • If you get an error message, check that you have the correct file name and path in the macro, AND check that your Word document containing the table that’s called by the macro has no empty rows.
  • If none of the words in your table get highlighted in your document on the first pass, select a highlight colour from the Home tab as though you were going to highlight manually, then run the macro again.
  • If some words are missed, check the table containing them — if a word has an initial capital in the table, but not in the document you are searching (e.g. in a URL), then the macro won’t highlight it. For words that could be capitalized in various ways, either add new lines for each variation, OR search for the part of the word you know won’t be capitalized (e.g. if you were searching for ‘Amazon’, then change the search term in the first column to ‘mazon’ to pick up the word whether it has an initial cap or not).
  • Some areas of your document won’t get highlighted, even if they contain the words you’re looking for — e.g. headers and footers, text boxes. You’ll have to check for these manually.

My author was VERY happy — she had something that only took a few seconds to run and highlighted all the various words she needed to look for.

[Links last checked November 2015]

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Don’t rely on spellcheck

November 5, 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — a spellchecker won’t save you if the word you’ve typed incorrectly is a real word in its own right.

oops

See also:

[Links last checked November 2015]

 

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IP address conflicts

October 30, 2015

This post is for me, so that I remember what happened last time! (If it helps you, that’s a bonus.)

Last night we had a short (2 second) power outage. My computer was turned off at the time, whereas the others were all on and protected by UPSs. This morning, my PC couldn’t connect to anything on the network — no internet, no network drives, no Outlook. One of the messages I saw was about an IP address conflict. The network connector cable was flashing orange on my PC. I rebooted and restarted several times, but to no avail. I checked the other PCs, laptop, and tablet and they all had connection so it wasn’t a problem at the server, the network hub, or the router. Perhaps it wasn’t related to the power outage at all and was a dodgy network card? Or the new phone I got two days ago?

My laptop is connected via WiFi so I was able to do my normal early morning tasks on it while I waited for the guys at PC Guru to start work.

When I called PC Guru, they checked several things, but there was still an issue. My Guru said he could see that there was an unnamed device on the network, but he couldn’t see if the IP address was conflicting with the one on my PC. And then I remembered that there’s an IP address on our Foxtel IQ2 box, and that the box would have reset itself after the power outage! I checked Foxtel’s network settings, and sure enough, their box had picked up a new IP address — the one for my PC! (remember, my PC wasn’t on at the time of the power outage).

It’s all sorted now, and PC Guru have now named the Foxtel connection on the DHCP (??) list.

I guess as households get more and more devices connected to their systems, it will become harder to identify them all, and so the potential for IP address conflicts will increase. It would help if each device had a name in real words that could be easily recognised by real people, instead of just a MAC address and an IP address.

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