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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!

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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!

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Family Tree Maker not connecting to Ancestry.com

August 12, 2019

This post is for me in case this happens again in the future.

I couldn’t connect my Family Tree Maker (FTM) software to ancestry.com—the username and password were correct, but FTM kept telling me one of them was invalid. I even reset my password on ancestry.com but still I couldn’t connect. Then I remembered that I’d set two-factor authentication (2FA) on my ancestry.com account—perhaps that was it?

I disabled 2FA on my ancestry.com account, and was then able to successfully connect my FTM software to ancestry.com. I don’t upload my family tree to Ancestry, but like being able to search for a person’s details on Ancestry via the web search area in FTM.

Seems like they may not play nicely together if you have 2FA turned on.

Update August 2019: In the comments below, Jason says you need to append the authentication code sent to you to the end of the password. I haven’t tried it yet but will next time I’m back in Family Tree Maker and want to search Ancestry.com from there, Thanks Jason!

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Windows 10: If you don’t set a default printer, the last one used will be the default

August 10, 2019

Here’s a trap in Windows 10 (actually, it may be the same in earlier versions, I’ve just never come across it before). If you don’t set a printer as your default printer, then whatever printer/printer driver you last used will be used for the next print job. How did I find this out? Well, I ‘printed’ an invoice to PDF to send to a client, then wanted to print a hard copy for my records. I’m used to the default printer being listed for the hard copy print, but instead the printer was still set to ‘Adobe PDF’.

You can set your preferred printer as the default under Settings > Printers & scanners, select your printer, click Manage, then click Set as default.

If you prefer to use the old-style Control Panel: Control Panel > Devices and Printers, right-click on the printer you want to be the default, then click Set as default.

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Windows 10: Can’t print a test page from Settings

August 10, 2019

After I set up my printer on my new Windows 10 computer, I tried to print a test page from Settings (Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners, select printer, then Manage) but I got a rundll32.exe permissions error.

So I tried from the old-style Control Panel (Control Panel > Devices and Printers, right-click on the printer, then select Printer Properties, then click Print Test Page). That worked fine, confirming that printing worked—it just wouldn’t print a test page from the new Settings options. Printing from Word and other programs also worked; it was just the Settings option where it didn’t work.

 

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Word 365: Finding your own templates

August 10, 2019

Since Word 2013 (Word for Windows), Microsoft has hidden your own templates fairly well, seemingly trying to force you into using theirs. However, every organization I’ve ever worked for uses its own templates, not the Microsoft ones, so when users in those organizations want to create a new document, they need to choose from the organization’s templates.

You used to be able to click File > New and then My Templates, but that disappeared from Word 2013 onwards.

And even if you’ve put your templates into the Templates location on your computer (C:\Users\<your_username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates), you still can’t find them when you click File > New. There are a few things you can do to get them back. First, you have to tell Word twice to look in that location. Then you have to know how to find your templates when you click New, and I’ll show you two ways to do this.

Tell Word where your templates are (you do this in two places—Save and Trust Center settings)

  1. Open Word 365.
  2. Go to File > Options > Save.
  3. Go to the Default personal templates location, and enter the file path where your templates are stored. NOTE: For some reason, there’s no Browse button, so if you’re using the default location (as above in the intro), just copy that, changing the <your_username> bit to your own name. Alternatively, if the AutoRecover file location field in the same window has the default location of C:\Users\<your_username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word\, just copy that and paste it into personal templates location field, changing ‘Word’ in that file path to ‘Templates’.
  4. Go to File > Options > Trust Center.
  5. Click Trust Center Settings.
  6. Go to Trusted Locations.
  7. Click on the row that has Word default locations: User templates as the Description.
  8. Check the path—it should be the same as you entered in Step 3. If it’s empty, click Modify, then click Browse and navigate to and select the folder where your templates are stored (by default: C:\Users\<your_username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates).
  9. Click OK as many times as necessary to close the Options windows.

Now that you’ve told Word where to find your templates, you need to know how to get to them easily when you click File >New. There are two ways to do this—the Word 365 way, and the ‘old’ way via a Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) button.

Method 1: Start a new document based on your template (Word 365 way)

  1. Open Word 365.
  2. Go to File > New.
  3. Click Personal.
  4. Click the template you want to use.

Method 2: Add a button to the QAT

  1. Open Word 365.
  2. Go to File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar.
  3. Change the selection at the top of the left column to Commands not in the ribbon,
  4. In the panel below that selection option, scroll down to New Document or Template and select it.
  5. Click Add to move it to the right panel and thus onto your QAT.
  6. Optional: Use the up/down arrows to move it where you’d like it to go on the QAT.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Test that it works by clicking this new button on the QAT—the old-style dialog box for choosing a template should open.

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Windows 10: Reduce size of search box on taskbar

August 10, 2019

I have a lot of icons on my taskbar, so when I started using Windows 10, I got frustrated with the amount of space taken up by things I didn’t want, like the Cortana icon, the Task View button, and the big search box.

I wanted to reduce the size of the search box and found this very short YouTube video that shows you how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eue0nMG9diQ

In case that video ever goes missing, here’s what to do:

  1. Right-click in any blank space in the task bar (or in the search box itself).
  2. The active items have a check mark next to them—click the ones you don’t want. You may have to repeat these steps for each one you want to remove/add. I got rid of the Cortana and Task View buttons.
  3. Next was the Search box. Repeat Step 1, but this time go to Search > Show Search Icon to reduce the search box to a magnifying glass icon. You can hide it altogether if you want to.

You can restore the search box the same way, if you want it back. But if you’ve set the Taskbar settings to show small icons only, then you won’t see the option for the search box until you turn that setting off (right-click in the task bar, select Taskbar Settings, then turn Use small taskbar buttons off).