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Word: Unlock a password-protected document

April 18, 2017

I spotted this 2009 article (http://people.csail.mit.edu/teller/misc/unlockworddoc.html) a few weeks ago, and have now had time to test it — it works!

Now, why would you want to unlock a password-protected Word document? Surely the author/company has locked it for a reason? Yes, in many cases, that’s correct and you shouldn’t try to circumvent the password protection — instead, ask the author/company for the password if you need to access elements of the document (e.g. protected form fields, formatting tools etc.).

However, if the author has left the company, or if they wrote the document many years ago and have forgotten the password (it happens!), then you may need to break the password protection to access the document’s contents and functions.

You can follow the steps in the link above, or, in case the content at that link gets removed at any stage, follow my modified and more detailed steps below, which are based on that article:

  1. Open the password-protected document in Word.
  2. Go to File > Save As, then select Word XML Document (*.xml) from the Save as type drop-down list.
    Select Word XML Document from the Save as Type drop-down list
  3. Click Save.
  4. Close Word.
  5. Right-click on the saved XML file (it should be in the same folder as your original document), then select Open with and choose a text editing program to open the file with (e.g. WordPad, NotePad, or other text editing program — do NOT choose Microsoft Word).
  6. Press Ctrl+F to open the Find dialog box.
  7. In the Find what field, type enforcement.
  8. You’ll find one instance, either w:enforcement=”1″ or w:enforcement=”on”.
    Find 'enforcement'
  9. Replace the “1” with a zero “0” (or replace “on” with “off”) to disable enforcement. This step unlocks the document.
  10. Save the XML document within your text editor, then close the text editing software.
  11. Right-click on the saved XML file, then select Open with and choose Microsoft Word.
  12. As soon as you’ve opened it, go to File > Save As, then select Word Document (*.docx) from the Save as type drop-down list. Change the file name if you want to preserve the original password-protected document an make this a new document, or use the same file name to replace the original document.
  13. Click Save. You should now be able to edit the document.

[Link last checked April 2017]

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ACES Conference: 2017

April 13, 2017

I attended (and spoke at) the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) annual conference in St Petersburg, Florida in March. I loved the Tampa/St Pete area!

Just for my records, here are the sessions I attended, with a brief summary for each of them.

Thursday March 23

  • Quick fixes you may have forgotten about (Merrill Perlman): A nice refresher of things that you can overlook when editing. Merrill is a funny, engaging speaker.
  • Catch as catch can (John Russial): Math!! Especially the difference between percentage and percentage point increases/decreases. Valuable.
  • Professional Etiquette: Navigate networking without making enemies (Christina Frey, Sarah Grey, Barbie Halaby, Heather Saunders): Very professionally presented, with seamless segues between members of the panel. Lots of content and great ideas.
  • ‘Word by Word: The secret life of dictionaries’ (Kory Stamper): Kory’s book had just been published a few days before the conference and this was her first-ever reading from it. She read an excerpt from the first chapter. It was so good, I ordered a copy online immediately afterwards (it was a hardback and only 24 copies were available at the conference) — my ordered copy beat me home. I’m about halfway through it and thoroughly savouring every word. Highly recommended for word nerds!

Friday, March 24

  • The Online Misinformation Ecosystem (general session) (Craig Silverman): Craig works for Buzzfeed. This session was great on pointing out how news and social media can manipulate a story.
  • Computer-Assisted Copy Editing: Using Tansa’s Products for Clear, Concise and Consistent Content (Chris Grimm): Excellent overview of some online tools available for checking consistency. However, each requires a link back to an online server, and so wouldn’t be acceptable to my main client.
  • The Editor as Writer: Essential Tools and Strategies (With Music!) (Roy Peter Clark): Great session, covering many basic (but often forgotten) strategies.
  • Faking Extroversion as an Introvert (Samantha Enslen, Rachel Godward, Laura Lattimer): Good session, but unfortunately Sam only ended up with about 3 minutes to cover all she had to say, which was a shame as she’s an excellent speaker.
  • ‘French toast’ vs. ‘french fries’: The Wild West of Food Editing (Wendy Allen, Janet Keeler): I loved this session! I don’t do food editing, but I cook, eat, and dine out, and read cookbooks and menus. I’m sure that qualifies, right? Oh, I was the only one in the room who knew the difference between grazer (an animal that grazes on grass) and grazier (a person who looks after such animals) — obviously ‘grazier’, which is well known in Australia, is little known in the US.
  • Banquet – keynote speaker Anne Curzan: Introduced us to ‘grammando!’, and recommended we use it instead of ‘grammar nazi’

Saturday, March 25

  • The Art of the Possible: The Dictionary as Authority of a Changing Language (Kory Stamper, Peter Sokolovksi, Anne Curzan): Lexicographers and linguists — these are my people and they are ‘on fleek’! :-)
  • Save Time and Your Sanity: Increase your Efficiency with Microsoft Word (me!): The room held about 70 seats — all were full, and about another 30 people were on the floor or leaning on the walls, which is tough for 90 minutes! Thanks for coming — and for staying, if you were one of the floor people.
  • Government Contract Editing–Guidelines to Make It Work (Elizabeth LaPlante, Helen O’Guinn): Good advice on plain language when writing and responding to RFPs etc.
  • How to Diagram Sentences — and Why (Lisa McLendon): A whirlwind trip through sentence diagramming, with examples for us to try. This wasn’t taught in Australian schools when I was growing up, so was unfamiliar to me, but I like the structure of it.
  • Lightning Presentations and Closing General Session: More whirlwind presentations. Kudos to the presenters!!
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Windows won’t eject my storage device

February 22, 2017

I’d been using an external hard drive (connected by USB) and wanted to safely eject it. But no matter what I did, I kept getting this message: “Windows can’t stop your ‘Generic volume’ device because a program is still using it. Close any programs that might be using the device, and then try again later.”

I tried quite a number of possible solutions I found on the internet, but none worked for me — until this one below. I’ve copied the solution in full, in case this information is no longer available at the URL at some time in the future (original URL where I found the answer: http://superuser.com/questions/36716/how-to-safely-remove-a-usb-drive-when-windows-cant-stop-your-generic-volume).

**********

Simple fix (Windows 7 Professional 64-bit):

  1. Change the drive letter, and if you want to keep the same letter, change it back.
  2. The drive can now be unmounted.

When you change the drive letter, it disconnects the drive from all processes that might be using it, as the warning message states. Once that happens, you can then unmount it the usual way.

If you don’t know how to change drive letter, follow these instructions.

  1. Control Panel –> Administrative Tools –> Computer Management –> Storage –> Disk Management (wait ~10 seconds for information to appear.)
  2. Select the problem drive under volume heading.
  3. Scroll to that drive in the lower part of window.
  4. Right-click on the drive, and select Change Drive Letter and Paths.
  5. Change the drive letter to one not reserved for another drive.
  6. Acknowledge the warning message.
  7. If you wish the drive to retain the original letter, simply switch it back. The drive can now be unmounted.

************

[Link last checked February 2017]

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Telstra service status

February 15, 2017

For my Aussie readers: If you’re having a problem with your Telstra landline, you can enter your postcode into this site (http://servicestatus.telstra.com/) and get a status update. There are three ‘buttons’ at the top of the screen — current interruptions/maintenance, scheduled maintenance, and completed maintenance. The service they’re referring to is landline voice calls ONLY, not ADSL internet.

And why did I find this out? Each of the three calls I made at various times today and to various numbers gave me a message that the ‘service to the telecoms network I was calling was temporarily congested, and please try again later’.

So I called iinet who my phone is through, and their 13xxxx number worked straight away from my landline. The lovely support person I spoke to said Telstra keep the 13xxxx numbers free in case of emergency as they’re ‘more important’, and told me about this Telstra site. Sure enough, we have ‘scheduled maintenance’ going on right now (‘Customers may experience difficulties making and receiving calls using their home phone service’) and it’s expected to last from 15 to 28 Feb (!!!). However, she said typically Telstra work on one part of the exchange for a day, which means we might only be down for the day. Fingers crossed. Meantime, Telstra gave us NO notification that the phone would be out, nor do they notify iinet of such outages.

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Methods for converting a scanned image of text into text

February 7, 2017

A few years ago, I documented how to use Adobe Acrobat’s optical character recognition (OCR) function to convert an image of text into actual text you can edit. I’ve since found other (free) methods to do this; hopefully one of these may work for you. My preferred method is OneNote, because it’s quick and easy and secure (if you’re using Microsoft Office installed on your computer).

NOTES:

  • None of the methods I tried gave 100% perfect results (but then, paid-for OCR software isn’t 100% either), but all were much quicker and easier than retyping the text. You’ll need to compare the results against the original PDF/image and fix the (hopefully few) errors that didn’t convert.
  • Online services have the added risk that you don’t know what happens to the files you upload, so be aware that there may be a ‘cost’ for ‘free’.

Use online conversion software

A quick and free option is available from http://www.onlineocr.net. You can upload and convert up to 15 PDFs/images (up to 5 MB per file) per hour without registering; you have to register if you want to do more than that. Outputs include Microsoft Word, Excel, and plain text.

I found it quick and easy to use, and the results were acceptable.

Use Google Docs

If you have a Google account, use your Google Drive. Then follow these instructions: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/176692?hl=en. (If this link no longer works, do this: Upload your image file to your Google Drive, then right-click on the image and select Open with > Google Docs.)

Once you’ve converted the image to a document, you’ll see the original image at the top of the document and might assume nothing has happened. Scroll down — you’ll find the converted text below the original image.

Use Microsoft Office OneNote

Add the image into OneNote. Right-click on it and select Copy text from Picture. Then paste it into Microsoft Word, Notepad, or whatever text editing or word processing software you use (you can also post it into OneNote).

OneNote comes with Microsoft Office, so if you have Office, this is a really easy method — you don’t need a Google account, and you don’t need to use an online service where you have no idea what happens to the files you submit.

 

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Outlook: Lost the preview pane and minimized to the title bar only

January 16, 2017

Something went askew with my Outlook — I only had a title bar when minimized, so had to maximize the window to see my emails. And instead of getting a list of emails with a preview of each in the lower part of the screen as I clicked on each one, I could only get the list of emails OR the current email fully displayed, not how I had it before. I don’t know what happened or why, but I was able to solve both issues with a bit of Googling.

Resize the Outlook window

I could maximize the window fully, but when I restored the window size it went to just a title bar. I could drag a handle to make the title bar wider or narrower, but I couldn’t pull down the corners to display the window.

Solution: Drag the title bar to either the right or left edge of the window. You get a ghost outline of the new window dimensions, so release the mouse. You should now have a workable window you can resize to your requirements.

Restore the Preview pane

No matter what I set in Outlook’s View tab > Reading Pane settings, I could only get either ALL my emails listed (with the unread ones showing about 3 lines of the email) , or get a single email listed with the details of the sender in the lower half of the window. My usual way of viewing emails is a single line list on the right (whether read or not; #1 in the screenshot below), a preview of the email in the middle part of the screen (#2), and the sender’s details and other communications in the lower part of the screen (#3). No matter what I set, I couldn’t get my usual view back.

outlook preview pane

I found the solution that worked for me here: http://community.spiceworks.com/topic/198544-outlook-reading-pane-turns-off-each-time-outlook-is-closed

In case this webpage ever goes missing, here’s what to do:

  1. Close Outlook.
  2. From the Start button (I’m using Windows 7, so vary this for the version of Windows you’re running), type Run then click the Run program.
  3. In the Open field on the Run dialog box, type outlook.exe /cleanviews (Note: there’s a space after exe but no other spaces).
  4. Click OK.
  5. If this works for you as it did for me, Outlook should reopen with your preview pane back as it was. Adjust the heights of the preview pane elements to suit.

outlook_preview_pane02

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2016 blog statistics

January 1, 2017

Sometime towards the end of 2016, this blog hit 9 million views since I started blogging in 2008! Some 1.75 million views occurred just in 2016. 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 2016 (less than 30), so many of these visits were to posts I’ve written in previous years. I’ve written 1715 blog posts since 2008.

Surprisingly, I only have 528 subscribers (you can subscribe by clicking the ‘Sign me up!’ 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 779 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 2016 statistics for this blog, as well as some comparative ones for ‘all time’ (‘all time’ is actually 2008 to 2016 — 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

2016_blog_stats01

2016_blog_stats02

Average daily views

2016_blog_stats03

The average views per day started to decrease in 2016 (4777 per day) compared to 2015 (5533 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.

2016_blog_stats04

Top 20 posts

2016_blog_stats05

Some posts are just more popular than others! Those 12 highlighted in blue appear in both lists — the top 20 posts of all time (2008-2016) on the left, and 2016 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 2008-2016 (i.e. >20,000 views each) and the top 20 for 2016 only (both below), the long tail was very evident. Again, the top 10 posts for all time garnered the most views, with posts 10 to 97 tailing off and flattening out. And for the 2016 view, the top five posts garnered the most views, then tapered off significantly after that.

2016_blog_stats07

 

2016_blog_stats06

So, there you have it. Nine years of blogging, 1714 blog posts published, and almost 9.2 million views (with 1.75 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 2016 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 2016, I’ll be writing posts sporadically in 2017 — 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 2017]