Archive for December, 2011


2011 blog statistics

December 31, 2011

In September 2011, this blog cracked the one million views mark since I started blogging in 2008. As I said when the total views passed half a million sometime in 2010, I can’t even comprehend that number.

As in previous years, some people read more than one post, and a few may have read every one, but there seem to be a lot of ‘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. As at 29 December 2011, the total view count is 1,265,000, which doesn’t include any of my views (yes, I use my own blog for stuff I can’t remember!). Some 680,000 (more than half) of those views occurred in 2011.

Here are some graphs and tables for the 2011 statistics for this blog, as well as come comparative ones for ‘all time’ (‘all time’ is actually 2008 to 2011 — 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

2011 blog stats -- table of total views 2008-2011

2011 blog stats - graph of total views per year 2008-2011Average daily views

2011 blog stats - graph of average daily views by month for 2011

The average views per day has doubled since 2010 (from 890 to 1868). The graphs above and below are for the full seven days per week, though most views occur on business days.

2011 blog stats - graph of average daily views by year, 2008-2011

As I mentioned above, most views are during the five business days, probably as a reflection of 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) see a notable drop in views. The graph below is for the daily views in December 2011. Weekends are indicated with the (1), weekdays are indicated with the (2), and (3) shows the weeks immediately before and after Christmas.

Daily trend - December 2011

Top 20 posts

2011 blog stats - Top 20 for 2011 and 2008-2011

Some posts are just more popular than others! Those highlighted in orange appear in both lists — the top 20 posts of all time (2008-2011) and 2011 only. Those without highlighting only appear in one of the top 20 lists. Some, like the ‘Header row won’t repeat’ one, were written in 2010, so I didn’t expect to see them in the Top 20 for 2008-2011 as they haven’t been around long enough to gather the numbers sufficient to put them in the ‘all time’ list.

Long tail

2011 blog stats - graph of the long tail for 499 posts 2008-2011

As expected, there’s a significant ‘long tail’ for this blog’s views. I can only extract stats for the top 499 posts from WordPress, but even for those 500 posts the long tail is very evident. In the graphs above and below, the top 50 posts, and especially the top 20, gained the most views. Everything else was a poor cousin to these top posts.

2011 blog stats - graph of the long tail for 499 posts 2011 only

When I extracted out the views just for the top 30 posts for 2008-2011 and 2011 only (both below), the long tail was still evident, though not as pronounced. Again, the top 10 posts garnered the most views, with posts 11 through to 30 tailing off and flattening out.

2011 blog stats - graph of the long tail for the top 30 posts 2008-2011

2011 blog stats - graph of the long tail for the top 30 posts 2011 only

So, there you have it. Four years of blogging, 1400 blog posts published, 1.2 million views (with more than half in the past 12 months).

I guess I must be doing something right, even though the monetary return is close to zero, especially considering I spend between two and ten hours each week writing blog posts.

However, in 2012 I’ll be writing posts more sporadically, and NOT ‘almost every day’. I still have a day job that I’m committed to, and my paid work always comes before unpaid work.


Word 2007 and later: Table Tools tabs

December 30, 2011

In a comment on one of my posts about showing table grid lines, Bill asked for more information on how to get Table Tools to display in Word 2007 and Word 2010.

Text instructions

  1. Click inside any table. Table Tools shows above the ribbon.
  2. Once Table Tools is showing, there are two tabs just for tables — Design and Layout.

Visual instructions

Table Tools not showing

Table Tools not showing as cursor is outside the table

In the screen shot above, the cursor (1) is in the caption, NOT in the table, so Table Tools is not showing above the ribbon (2).

In the screen shot below, the cursor (1) is in the table, so Table Tools is showing above the ribbon (2), and the Design and Layout tabs (3) for tables are also displayed.

Table Tools is showing

Table Tools (and its tabs) are showing because the cursor is in the table

[Links last checked December 2011]


MYOB AccountRight 2011: Upgrade issues

December 27, 2011

Bottom line: I can’t use the new version of MYOB!

I held off upgrading my business accounting package (MYOB) until the Christmas break. I wanted to have time to do the upgrade (MYOB suggested 1 hour outside normal work hours), and time to learn about some of the new features. I’m glad I held off — within a few days of releasing their v2011, they had released a service pack (SP) for it, addressing ‘issues’ presumably related to the upgrade process and things that just didn’t work once your MYOB files were upgraded.

So, come Boxing Day (December 26), I was relaxed enough to do the upgrade and had set aside half a day for it. I read through the Release Notes (yes, people actually read these!), which included the steps for the upgrade and what to do both before and after. I backed up my two MYOB files, installed v2011 and then the SP, as instructed. I upgraded my two MYOB files. All this took about 45 minutes or so.

And then I came to a screeching halt.

One thing that MYOB does when you do an upgrade (and about every 6 months thereafter) is activate and/or confirm your files and your installation of the software are legitimate. I don’t have an issue with that… as long as it works! But it didn’t work for me. And nor did a few other things.

Fortunately, I made a backup and didn’t uninstall v19, so I can continue to use that until MYOB open their customer support lines on Wednesday 28 December.

Here are my issues with this upgrade:

  • I can’t confirm either of my MYOB data files via the internet. Without confirmation, I CAN’T USE MY OWN DATA. I have a legitimate installation of MYOB and pay almost $500 a year for their upgrade/support, yet I can’t access my own stuff and I can’t contact them as they’ve closed their support lines only a short time after releasing this new software. I understand that their staff need a Christmas break too, but even a skeleton staff would help — there must be many businesses that take advantage of the holidays to upgrade their business software. Also, there’s no ‘grace period’. Even Microsoft allow you to use their Office products for several days/instances before you must activate.
  • I can’t confirm via phone either as the phone # and serial # is not displayed, as documented in the Release Notes. I just get a blank screen with a title.
  • I couldn’t choose a network location for my library folder. I got error messages no matter what I put in for the network path. For example, I tried these \\<servername>, \\<servername>\myob (yes, that folder exists and is shared), and the IP address of my server, all as instructed. None worked, so I ended up choosing the default My Library.
  • When I selected My Library, there’s no indication of the file path for the installation of your MYOB files and no option to change the location! What other software does this?? I only discovered the file path by doing a Windows search; the path in Windows XP is the Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\MYOB… folder. (see this Support Note for the locations for other operating systems: One user on the Forum said it most eloquently: “Libraries. Fixed location does not work for me and others. I want to keep my data where I want it. Remember it is my data, not yours. Makes backing up all my data simple.”

Other issues documented in the Release Notes are of concern:

  • Many existing features in v19 and earlier are not yet available in v2011. I don’t use any of these listed in the screen shot below, but if I did, I’d be mightily annoyed with MYOB that they seem to have released a half-baked product. Perhaps they were under pressure to get it out before the end of the year. Personally, I’d rather they waited and got it right and did the proper testing before releasing software that LOSES features people have come to rely on.
  • All your custom reports are gone. Phhttt. Gone. Just like that. And you can’t get them back or convert them — you have to set them up again. Platitudes like ‘…making this task a lot easier’ are worthless if you’re the poor bunny who relies on custom reports and has to set them all up again. I don’t have many — perhaps 6, only 1 of which I use regularly — but I’m still not happy that there’s no conversion option for these and that I’ll have to spend time setting them up again.
  • User accounts become inactive and you are forced to assign users to roles. They sell the package I use to small businesses only and sell it as a single user system. Often the only person using MYOB is also the owner of the business. One user. So why is MYOB forcing these small businesses to use roles? That seems like overkill. Sure, I can understand it for their medium to large business and enterprise packages, where many people can be using the same MYOB file. But not for the single person small businesses.
  • Any images you’ve used in your previous MYOB installations have to be relocated to a new folder and they CANNOT BE MORE THAN 200 KB is size! 200 KB? What year are we in — 1992??? What a ridiculous restriction. And there’s no explanation as to why, either.

Other potential issues reported on the MYOB Support Forum:

  • It’s dog slow (I can’t confirm this as I can’t get into my files, but it’s a common thread on the forum; many users have reverted to using v19)

For all sorts of other issues, see the MYOB Support Forum topics on the November 2011 upgrade:

I don’t think I’ll be trusting my business and personal accounts to the latest version of MYOB for some time… It’s WAY too buggy. I wonder if I can send them an invoice for the 6+ hours I’ve wasted today on their forums and trying to get their software to work.

Update: I decided to open the sample file in the latest version of MYOB, and did some quick speed tests against the same sample file in v19. Here are my results:

  • Open Mary Jones’ card: v2011 – 10+ seconds; v19 – less than 1 second. (I re-opened it in the new version two or three times in case there was caching going on — each time it took more than 10 seconds to open)
  • Open the Spend Money window: v2011 – 7 seconds; v19 – less than 1 second
  • Enter a different date on the Spend Money window: Can’t overwrite existing and use periods as dividers in v2011, as you’ve been able to do in ALL previous versions of MYOB. You have to use ‘/’ separators or choose a date from the drop-down calendar. For those who do a LOT of data entry, this will frustrate the hell out of them.
  • Entering time billing information takes forever…
  • Generating an invoice: v2011 – 10+ seconds; v19 – 2 seconds
  • Processing payroll: v2011 – 30+ seconds; v19 – less than 5 seconds

The program is definitely MUCH prettier. But its functionality and performance leave a LOT to be desired. Pretty NEVER trumps performance, in my book.

Update 27 December 2011: It took nearly 5 minutes to get my Desktop displayed after booting up and logging on this morning. I recall seeing something about slow boot times as a result of installing MYOB AccountRight 2011 in the forums yesterday, so will restart my computer again to see if that was a one-off. If it wasn’t, I’ll try a system restore back to where I was before I installed MYOB…. The restart was at normal speed, so I’ll hold off on that system restore.

[Links last checked December 2011]


Word: Styles get overwritten on another computer

December 23, 2011

Chris had a problem:

I’m having a problem with the styles in a client’s document. The client sends me the document. I edit it and send it back to the client. They then contact me and say, ‘all the formatting has disappeared’.

My response to Chris:

  • Any styles you create often are overwritten by the styles of the same name on the client’s machine if you haven’t specified a template and/or the client isn’t using that template. Does the client have the template you’re using for the styles/formatting installed? My guess is that they don’t and/or you haven’t set the path to the template in the Word document (Word 2007/2010: Developer tab > Document Template).
  • Also, make sure when you send the document that Automatically Update Styles is TURNED OFF (Word 2007/2010: Developer tab > Document Template). That’s a guaranteed way to stuff up the styles.

And the solution that worked for Chris:

Thanks for your advice: the client had the automatically update styles check-box ticked. This was the problem. Amazing how such a ‘small thing’ can cause such a headache.

See also:

[Links last checked December 2011]


Amazon: Synonym for ‘confusing’

December 22, 2011

Amazon have a ‘Big Deal’ sale on Kindle books until December 23, 2011. So I clicked the link for the Amazon store, and saw that a book I’d read through my local public library was on sale for $1.99 (I’ve used yellow highlighting to show the relevant bits) .

The price on the main page is $1.99

I quite enjoyed the book and thought my Mum might like it (she has a Kindle). So I clicked the book’s cover to find out more and to purchase this book for her. And I got this:

The price on the book's page is $14.37 for the Kindle edition

Confusing moment #1: The price is now $14.37 for the Kindle edition! What? The link I clicked had it at $1.99, so why is it now $14.37? It was only December 21 when I clicked the link, so the deal hadn’t expired.

Note: When I clicked the link for the Kindle edition, Amazon was happy to sell it to me for $14.37, not $1.99 as advertised on the Big Deal sale page. Guess what? I didn’t buy it.

Confusing moment #2: Below the title, author and star rating is a statement that pricing information isn’t available. Yet there’s pricing listed for three different editions and three different sources.

So I looked closer at the page to see what was going on, and spotted this:

An Australian book by an Australian author can't be purchased by Australians

Confusing moment #3: Amazon obviously knows I’m from Australia, so why did it show this book on the ‘Big Deals’ page in the first place if it won’t sell it to customers from Australia? Why does it show the pricing of the various editions etc. and allows a potential customer to click on those prices, yet shows this message that I can’t purchase this book in ANY edition because I live in Australia up in the top right corner of the page where I won’t see it? And why can’t I buy a book just because I live in Australia? It’s a Kindle book, NOT a printed and bound book, so the publishers’ agreements should have already been sorted for international distribution by electronic means. It’s unlikely I could buy this book in a bookstore as bookstores don’t sell Kindle books, only Amazon does! I’m getting confused…

Then add to this mix this gem from the official review:

Disher is an Australian author who has won Australian awardsConfusing moment #4: Disher is an Australian author. He’s won Australian awards. I’m an Australian living in Australia. I have an internet connection and an Amazon account. I can go to the Amazon site and buy books, as I have done for many years.  But I CAN’T buy THIS book because I live in Australia!

There’s something very wrong about that.

But equally, there’s something very wrong with the Amazon site too. Not only is it confusing regarding pricing, but if Amazon already knows I’m from Australia and thus knows that it can’t sell me that book, then why doesn’t it put that information on the book’s main page in a popup message or similar, right in the middle of the browser window where I can see it? Why hide the information in a little box in the top right corner of the window?

This is not the sort of user experience that would encourage a potential customer to buy from Amazon.

I’m pretty savvy around websites; my 80-year old Mum isn’t. She buys Kindle books, so this sort of experience would be very confusing for her. Hell, it was confusing enough for me!


Word: Error opening a Word 2010 document in Word 2007

December 21, 2011

Here’s a strange one…

One of my clients sent me a Word 2007 template (DOTM) and five existing Word 2007 reports (DOCX format). They wanted me to transfer the report contents on to the new template, creating a new document for each report.

I only have Word 2003 and Word 2010 so I created the new documents in Word 2010 from the client’s template and happily sent them off the client. I’ve used Word 2010 for this client’s Word 2007 documents previously, without any problems.

However, when the client received the new documents, only two would open in Word 2007. The other three resulted in an error message (‘The file cannot be opened because there are problems with the contents’) — one of those lovely messages that tells you absolutely nothing! What ‘problems with the contents’? Does this mean the table of contents, or the content of the document?

Error message when trying to open Word 2010 documents in Word 2007

Error message when trying to open Word 2010 documents in Word 2007

When I clicked on Details (as you do), I got nothing from Microsoft Word as to what might be causing this error:

'Details' tells you nothing more

'Details' tells you nothing more


I tried opening these 20+ page documents in Word 2007 on another client’s computer, but also got the error, so I was able to replicate what my client saw. I also tried opening them on my PC with Word 2003 installed on it. Again, I got a useless error message saying that Word couldn’t open the document. However, on my laptop with Word 2010 installed on it, these documents opened just fine.

Off to the internet…

I found several suggestions for getting your document back, and tried most of them (see below for links for various solutions). Things I tried included:

  • Save As a different format — DOC (Word 2003; no good as you lose the Content Controls, and this document/template had 25 of these!) and DOCM (macro-enabled Word 2007/2010 document). That didn’t work — the document I was testing still wouldn’t open.
  • Open and Repair via both Word 2003 and Word 2007. That didn’t work.
  • Remove the Table of Contents and replace it with a new one, as suggested on one of the web forums. That didn’t work.
  • Upload the Word document to Google Docs and DON’T convert it. Google Docs said it couldn’t open it…
  • Upload the Word document to Google Docs and convert it. It opened in Google Docs, but as there were a LOT of client-specific styles in this document, I decided this would be my final option as there was a lot of work to copy/paste and reformat the content.
  • I didn’t try the XML options I found on the internet as my issue wasn’t with XML, as far as I could tell.

Because I could still open the documents in Word 2010, I decided to Save As RTF (Rich Text Format) from Word 2010. This blew each 600 KB document out to some 27 MB, but these were only temporary files until I re-created the documents.

I then used the PC with Word 2007 on it and re-created a new document for each of the three that were corrupted, using the View Side by Side option in Word to copy/paste the contents. Because I was using the same template with the same styles, the copy/paste process was pretty quick and easy, even for the tables.

Fortunately, I could access a Word 2007 installation, otherwise I might have had to resort to the Google Docs option or start again and hope for the best (these were only 20 page docs, but, like most people, I don’t like having to re-do work I’ve just done).

So, what caused this corruption?

I have no idea.

And I wasn’t going to spend hours trying to find out. I had already charged the client for the work done, so I had to re-create the docs on my own time and dime. I didn’t have time to figure out why — I just needed to fix the documents.

The only thing I can think of that *may* have caused something to go wrong was that I attached these docs to an email and sent the email to the client. Not long after I did that, I closed Outlook and shut down the laptop. As my upload speed is pretty slow, it’s quite likely that closing Outlook and shutting down the laptop occurred in the middle of the upload. However, I didn’t get any warning message telling me so, and my Outbox was clear when I closed it. As I said, it’s the only thing I can think of that I did that *may* have caused it. One of the sites below talks about removing a USB stick causing documents to corrupt, so I think closing Outlook and/or the laptop might be similar.


Here are some of the sites I used to get clues as to how to fix these corrupt Word documents:

[Links last checked December 2011]


Cool map of LinkedIn connections

December 19, 2011

My friend Suzy alerted me to this cool LinkedIn ‘map app’ that you can get at LinkedIn Labs.

Here’s a zoomed out version of my LinkedIn connections:


My mapped connections on LinkedIn

From what I can decipher, my (mostly) Australian connections are on the right, with my international (mostly US) connections on the left.

The large blue and green blobs on the left seem to be my technical communication colleages; on the right, the three outer blobs are people I know us working at the same company, as is the little blue blob on the right.

Notice how there’s a lot of connectivity between connections in each of the main groups.

Pretty cool.

[Links last checked December 2011]


Charitable donation instead of Christmas cards

December 13, 2011

As in previous years, I have made a charitable donation to the Western Operations of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia on behalf of CyberText Consulting, in lieu of sending out Christmas cards to clients or having a Christmas party (with myself).

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is an essential service for people living and working in areas outside the major metropolitan centers. It provides on-ground medical services and air ambulance transport.

Many of my clients are oil and gas, mining and resource companies whose employees live and work in some of Australia’s remotest places. The RFDS is a lifeline for them, and for all outback workers and travelers. While the RFDS gets some government funding, it relies a lot on donations and bequests to keep running.

More information:

[Links last checked December 2011]


No, no, no!

December 8, 2011

I was doing some online training for some new software and came across this in a demo:

Do not enable accessibility options

Do not enable accessibility options -- why not??

There’s no explanation for why you shouldn’t check this box, just an instruction to NOT do so. Nothing like making it hard for those who don’t have 100% use of every one of their faculties.


Outlook won’t open

December 6, 2011

I had a bit of a scare the other day when Outlook on my client’s laptop wouldn’t open. I got this message:

Outlook cannot open your default e-mail folders. The information store could not be opened.

It was possibly related to me trying to open Outlook the previous evening when I wasn’t connected to the client’s servers via VPN.

I went hunting on the internet for a solution — and found a few.

But before trying to apply any of those solutions or calling the client’s IT support center, I decided to reboot the computer in case something got tangled up between me disconnecting from the VPN, opening Outlook offline, reconnecting to the VPN the next morning and trying to open Outlook as normal — which is when I got the error.

And the restart worked!

In case you get a similar message and a restart doesn’t work, here are some sites that may help:

[Links last checked 1 December 2011]