Archive for March, 2012

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Word: Sometimes a List of Tables/Figures just won’t update

March 28, 2012

I’ve had several documents recently where the List of Tables and/or List of Figures just won’t update to list all tables/figures in the document.

The captions are all applied correctly, and I’ve tried the various methods for updating the fields. I’ve even reinserted the List of Tables/Figures — all to no avail. Some tables/figures just don’t show in the lists.

I’ve suspected it was to do with track changes being on in the document, even though none of the captions or the paragraphs surrounding them were the subject of tracked changes. And I also suspected that something was happening with the field updating that can get messed up when track changes are on (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/word-macro-to-fix-track-changescross-references-issues/ for how to fix that).

To confirm my suspicions, I copied a document that wouldn’t behave and put it into a testing area (so I wouldn’t mess up the original). I then accepted all track changes in the document and updated the List of Tables. It worked! All the tables that should have been listed originally were now listed correctly.

The problem is that the authors need to keep on track changes so that the regulators can see what’s changed in these docs, so they have three choices:

  • Accept all track changes (NOT an option for these docs)
  • Ignore the pesky List of Tables and hope that the reader doesn’t notice ;-)
  • Ignore the pesky List of Tables and make a note to the regulators that it will update correctly once all track changes are dealt with.

[Links last checked March 2012]

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Outlook: Delay the delivery of an email

March 26, 2012

Did you know that you can delay the delivery of an email so that it’s sent at a time and date of your choosing? Very handy if you have an announcement you want to make at a particular time/date, or if want to sit on your response for a while (though I strongly suggest you use the Drafts folder for that type of email!)

Here’s how in Outlook 2007 and 2010:

  1. Click New E-mail as you would for any new email message.
  2. On the new message window, you’ll see a custom ribbon specific to that email. Click the Options tab.

    Go to the Options tab on a new email message window

    Go to the Options tab on a new email message window

  3. Go to the More Options group, and click Delay Delivery.

    Click Delay Delivery in the More Options group

    Click Delay Delivery in the More Options group

  4. Complete the details on the Properties window, then click Close.

    Complete the time/date and other details

    Complete the time/date and other details

  5. Click Send as usual — the message will sit in your Outbox until the time/date you specified, when it will be sent.

While this is a handy feature, there are some issues with it. For details on those, see: http://office-watch.com/t/n.aspx?a=1681

[Links last checked March 2012]

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Adobe explains why their pricing is different in various countries

March 22, 2012

Further to my blog posts about Adobe’s pricing for their products in various markets around the world (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/adobe-pricing-sucks/ and https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/07/12/how-do-they-get-away-with-it/, and some recent Twitter activity on this issue, I was contacted by someone from Adobe for my email address. She sent me this response (below); after you’ve read it, I offer my own opinion on many of her points. Bottom line: It’s all BS!

The following points may help explain why there are price differences across different regions:

We establish our prices for Creative Suite products in U.S. dollars, Euros, Yen, British Pound and Australian dollars on a regional basis using a consistent methodology. Local market conditions significantly influence our pricing – these include the costs of doing business in different regions and customer research that assesses the value of the product in the local market.

We conduct the majority of our business through our retail and licensing channels. We depend on our retail partners in local markets to help us reach as many customers as possible, support those customers, and much more. Resellers are free to decide at which price they sell Adobe products. Adobe decides the price at which it sells its product on the Adobe Store.

The cost of doing business in the rest of the world is higher than in North America. That higher cost is reflected in some of our pricing and would remain no matter how customers chose to purchase. For example, customers will still read about our products through local press to whom we reach out; they will meet local Adobe sales people who conduct seminars, participate in user groups, and visit large customers; and they will rely on support resources that Adobe makes available in these markets. All of these efforts impact the business costs of securing the sale, whether that sale is delivered online or in a box.

I’ve now had three explanations for the price differences from three different Adobe people — one was ‘different taxes’, the other at the WritersUA conference last week was ‘localization costs’ (for which there’s NO justification for such unfair price differences for an English language product being sold into an English language market!), and now it’s this ‘cost of business’ argument.

I’ll address her points as I see them and as a customer who feels they are being ripped off by Adobe:

We establish our prices … on a regional basis using a consistent methodology.

But she doesn’t explain what this ‘consistent methodology’ is, nor why it results in such inequitable pricing. Surely a consistent methodology should result in consistent pricing.

Local market conditions significantly influence our pricing – these include the costs of doing business in different regions and customer research that assesses the value of the product in the local market.

Last I saw, the Australian and US dollars were on about par, unlike just a few years ago when the Aussie dollar was running at less than 50c in the US dollar. What does ‘local market conditions’ actually mean? And if local market conditions ‘influence our pricing’, that’s almost counter to her argument of a ‘consistent methodology’ used in ‘establishing our pricing’. But the best has to be that their ‘customer research assesses the value of the product in the local market’! What the…? They obviously don’t read the Australian computing magazines that slam companies like Adobe for their inequitable pricing, nor do they take notice of politicians asking for parliamentary inquiries into inequitable IT pricing and calling out companies like Adobe for their unfair pricing. As an Adobe customer of many years, I’ve NEVER been asked by Adobe for my opinion on anything, let alone ‘the value of the product in the local market’.

We conduct the majority of our business through our retail and licensing channels.

Really? I would’ve thought they’d have got a lot of business from their own website too. As far as local channels are concerned, if you look up the Australian White Pages, there’s only ONE listing for Adobe in the entire country (22+ million people!), and I bet it’s not a retail outlet. It’s in Sydney, about a 4-hour flight from where I live so it’s pretty useless for me to do business with them. While this center may deal with Australian retailers and licensing issues, I suspect that an ordinary customer who wanted to buy a single copy of one of their products would be sent on their way or referred to the Adobe website or a retailer; I suspect that this single office in Sydney deals only with the large corporate clients.

We depend on our retail partners in local markets to help us reach as many customers as possible, support those customers, and much more.

That’s a joke, right? If they’re referring to retail outlets like OfficeWorks, Harvey Norman, Harris Technology, Dick Smith, etc. and the online software stores in Australia, there’s NO support whatsoever, and it’s almost impossible to buy an upgrade from them to an Adobe product you already own. Sure, you can buy a shiny new one, but when you want an upgrade, you are forced to pay the inflated price, forced to go to the Adobe website (for an equally inflated price), or to a US retailer like Amazon thus sending the Australian dollars overseas. And ‘reach as many customers as possible’? How? Checking these retail outlets for software and upgrade pricing is like pulling teeth — many of them seem to be avoiding selling software altogether, unless it’s the lucrative volume licensing model. You typically can’t buy specialist software in a bricks and mortar retailer like those listed above — you have to buy it online. And don’t ask in store for help (at least in Western Australia) — most of the staff at those retailers haven’t got a CLUE about the products they sell, let alone about specialist software.

Resellers are free to decide at which price they sell Adobe products. Adobe decides the price at which it sells its product on the Adobe Store.

But aren’t there laws about that? I was under the impression that a ‘recommended retail price’ in Australia couldn’t be exceeded, but could be discounted. According to this statement, retailers can set whatever price they like, despite what Adobe says the price is or sells the product for. That means that a retailer in Australia is under no obligation to sell the product at the price Adobe has on their own store. Which means that there should be competition in the marketplace where we see retailers undercutting Adobe’s own highly inflated prices — I’d like to see that! Assuming I could buy an upgrade from a retail outlet, my guess is that it would cost at least as much as Adobe sell it for from their Australian online store, or be comparable. I suspect Adobe pressures retailers into selling at a price that’s comparable to their own highly inflated price.

The cost of doing business in the rest of the world is higher than in North America.

Really??? This is like saying that North American wages are cheaper than anywhere else in the world, that the North American cost of living is cheaper than anywhere else, etc. I’ve just come back from the US, and while they’ve collectively suffered with the global financial crisis more than most Australians have, I doubt that the cost of living or the cost of doing business is much different — at least not substantially different. Not 80+% different, which is the price differential for the products I analyzed back in 2008 and in January 2012. The ‘cost of doing business’ would include things like rents, wages, taxes etc. But Adobe only has one location in Australia, so I suspect it doesn’t employ many people here, and the retail outlets sell all sorts of products, not just Adobe ones, so I can’t see how the ‘cost of business is higher elsewhere’ holds up to scrutiny.

That higher cost is reflected in some of our pricing and would remain no matter how customers chose to purchase.

So if an Australian chooses to buy from Adobe or Amazon direct and not via an Australian retail outlet, we are somehow penalized for the ‘higher cost’ or doing business in Australia even though we’ve purchased from a US location (for example)? I just don’t understand her argument here.

For example, customers will still read about our products through local press to whom we reach out; they will meet local Adobe sales people who conduct seminars, participate in user groups, and visit large customers; and they will rely on support resources that Adobe makes available in these markets. All of these efforts impact the business costs of securing the sale, whether that sale is delivered online or in a box.

Now that’s just plain BS!!!

  • Meet local Adobe sales people? Ha! Not in Australia you won’t, unless perhaps you live in Sydney and pop into the office address they have listed in the White Pages.
  • Conduct seminars? Where? Not in Western Australia they don’t, or if they do, I haven’t been notified of them.
  • Participate in user groups? Nope. I’ve been on the Adobe forums and user groups, and they are populated in the main with people who are in terrible trouble with their software pleading for help and those very kind souls who give freely of their time to help them out. Rarely is an official Adobe employee to be seen on these forums. Besides, even if they did participate, it wouldn’t be the ‘local’ (Australian) Adobe employees — it would be those based in North America or India, most likely.
  • Visit large customers? Possibly, if you’re large enough. Is ‘large’ taken on number of employees, dollar value of potential or actual sales from that customer, annual turnover of the business?
  • Support resources that Adobe makes available in these market? That’s the biggest BS of all! I’ve had to deal with Adobe phone support a few times and I can tell you that I didn’t deal with a local (Australian) person or even someone based in North America. While the support person was able to answer my questions and help me out in each case, they weren’t based in my country at all. And yes, I asked them where they lived.

Finally:

All of these efforts impact the business costs of securing the sale, whether that sale is delivered online or in a box.

Securing the sale? I don’t need my sale secured! I know what I want and I’m prepared to buy it, but I’m not going to pay overly inflated prices for something I can get for much less if I lived in the US or had a US credit card. I don’t want a box and fancy packaging. It’s software for goodness sake — I just want to be able to download it and start using it… but at a FAIR price.

Sorry Adobe. Your European representative who sent me this email is trying to use a heap of jargon and wishy washy statements, put together with marketing spin, to justify why there’s such a price differential. And I don’t believe a word of it.

Update 13 February 2013: ‘Adobe cuts Australian prices after inquiry summons’ (http://www.afr.com/p/technology/adobe_cuts_australian_prices_after_BgBXyFaCrXRGNIrS1M2fNN). Ah, the headline that promised so much but delivered so little. Adobe is cutting its subscription pricing for ONE product suite for Australians. Not its boxed products, nor its download products, nor ALL its inflated prices for its other products. And it took a summons from the Australian federal government to do that, though I’m sure it will deny that was the impetus for the change of heart.

And another news report chimes in stating that it’s cheaper to fly to the US to buy some Adobe products than buy them in Australia! http://www.news.com.au/technology/biztech/it-is-cheaper-to-fly-to-us-than-buy-adobe-software-in-australia/story-fn5lic6c-1226576920561

Update 22 March 2013: Adobe, Apple and Microsoft to explain to parliamentary committee why they charge Australians more (good infographic of geoblocking too!): http://www.news.com.au/technology/biztech/watchdog-choice-has-tough-questions-for-apple-microsoft-and-adobe/story-fn5lic6c-1226602766888

Does Adobe think we’re stupid with this response to the parliamentary committee, quoted from that page: ‘Adobe defended charging Australians more than $1000 extra for its publishing software by claiming that Australians were receiving a “personalised” service on its local website.’

GIVE. ME. A. BREAK.

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Spellcheck blunder

March 20, 2012

A work colleague shared this Microsoft Word spellcheck suggestion…

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More internet woes… and solutions

March 7, 2012

I blogged the other day about my difficulties getting internet access. Well, this time I came across a different problem, but with some astute observation and a curious mind I was able to fix it.

I’m staying at a place in Texas where they have free WiFi for guests.  Initially, I could only get ‘Local Connection’, but after a few tries, I could get ‘Local and Internet’. Despite that, I couldn’t access the outside world. Supposedly I was meant to see an ‘I agree to the terms and conditions’ webpage from the accommodation provider, but I got nothing. Even the guy on the desk who came to my room to let me know he’d reset something was puzzled as to why I couldn’t get access, even though the network icon in the system tray told me I had an excellent wireless connection to ‘local and internet’. He asked me to try entering the URL for the resort, but that didn’t work either.

I’d been able to get a WiFi connection on my phone, but I couldn’t download my emails. Then I tried Google on my phone and got the Terms and Conditions webpage. Once I’d clicked OK on that, I was through to the internet on my phone and then all my emails downloaded fine. I had to use the browser first — downloading emails or opening TweetDeck wouldn’t display the Terms and Conditions page.

When I got the Terms and Conditions page on the phone, I noticed that the URL changed to an internal IP address — e.g. http://192.168.33.2/user/guest_tou.jsp. The 192.168 bit of the address was a dead giveaway that it was routing to a local server or router.

Hmmm… I wondered if typing in that IP address manually would work on my laptop?

I reconnected my laptop to the resort’s WiFi, opened a browser window, and entered the IP address. Voila! I got the Terms and Conditions page, clicked the ‘I agree’ button, and I now had full access to the internet.

I let the guy at the front desk know — he had no idea that an IP address will often resolve where a named URL won’t. And I’ve since helped a few other people in my workshop who were having the same problem as me get connected too.

 

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Local connection only

March 7, 2012

Ah, the joys of traveling! There’s the whole phone thing, and then there’s WiFi in places like airline lounges, airports, hotels, etc.

I had a devil of a time trying to connect to the internet in the Qantas Lounges in Perth and Sydney. They have free WiFi and I was using my laptop. I was getting ‘Local Connection Only’ and just couldn’t get to the outside world. Eventually, I figured I’d connect to the Qantas Lounge’s WiFi via my phone, then tether my phone to my laptop and get access that way. That worked, but it still bothered me that I couldn’t get internet access direct from my laptop when everyone else seemed to have no trouble with it. I just thought it was Qantas’ connection, but it looks like I was wrong.

When I got to the hotel at Dallas Forth Worth Airport, I could only get ‘Local Connection’ too. I could access some websites (e.g. Google, an Australian news site, Wikipedia) but not others (e.g. my WordPress blog, an Australian bank site etc.). As I’d paid for this WiFi, I figured I’d call the number listed on the piece of paper with my password on it. I got through to a helpful chap who thought I probably had a static IP address on my laptop (that sounded familiar!). And I did.

After I noted down the static IP settings (‘cos I’ll have to re-enter them when I get home), I turned on the ‘obtain IP address and DNS automatically’ settings and suddenly I had full access!

So, my apologies Qantas — it was my laptop’s settings that likely caused the problem I had. I’m going to have to remember that for next time…

Steps (for Windows 7):

  1. Open the Network and Sharing Center from the Control Panel.
  2. Double-click the link for the internet, then click Properties.
  3. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), then click Properties.
  4. IMPORTANT!! Write down the details from that second Properties page and KEEP this information! Do not lose it as you’ll need it when you’re back home or in the office and reconnected to that system.
  5. Select Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically, then click OK as many times as necessary to close these windows.

When you’re back home:

  1. Open the Network and Sharing Center from the Control Panel.
  2. Double-click the link for the internet, then click Properties.
  3. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), then click Properties.
  4. Select Use the following IP address and enter the details you wrote down at step 4 in the previous steps.
  5. Select Use the following DNS server addresses and enter the details you wrote down at step 4 in the previous steps.
  6. Click OK as many times as necessary to close these windows.
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T-Mobile: Phone, text OK, but no internet

March 6, 2012

I’m currently in the US for a conference. Using my Australian cell phone while traveling is just asking for a HUGE bill, so I’ve purchased a T-Mobile pre-paid SIM with unlimited phone, unlimited text and data — all for just a couple of dollars a day.

I went to a T-Mobile store (Grapevine Mills Mall, TX), and the very helpful Robert got me sorted with the new SIM, getting it activated, and checking that it all worked. Phone worked – check; text worked – check; data worked – nope. He called the Support people and they said it should work within about two hours (something about ‘provisioning’). Data is the main reason I wanted a US SIM as I don’t make/receive a lot of calls/texts. Anyhow, about four hours later, I still couldn’t access the internet from my phone. I called Robert again (he’d told me to, if there were still problems), and after making a quick call, he suggested I call T-Mobile’s tech support as there were some settings I’d probably have to change on my phone to get the internet.

I got through to Travis in T-Mobile support and he was MOST helpful. As I couldn’t change the settings while I was talking to him on the phone, he called me back at my hotel and walked me through it all. All up, I guess I was on the phone with him for about 30 minutes and I never felt pressured or hurried.

It seems when you put in a SIM from another carrier, you have to change something called the APN settings. Who knew?

So for future reference for myself in case I use a T-Mobile SIM again when I’m in the US, here’s what I had to do on my unlocked Telstra Android phone (HTC Sensation) to get internet access:

  1. Settings > Wireless & Networks.
  2. Make sure WiFi is turned OFF.
  3. Select Mobile Networks (listed below Mobile Network).
  4. Turn Data Roaming ON.
  5. Make sure Enable Always-on mobile data is ON (it was for me, by default).
  6. Select Access Point Names (aka APN).
  7. Tap the menu icon and select New APN.
  8. Complete these details (NOTE: This is for T-Mobile only):
  9. Name: tmobile (or whatever name you want to give it that you’ll remember)
  10. APN: epc.tmobile.com
  11. Proxy: 216.155.165.050
  12. Port: 8080
  13. Leave the other settings as they are until you get to…
  14. MMSC: http://mms.msg.eng.t-mobile.com/mms/wapenc
  15. MMSC proxy: 216.155.165.050
  16. MMSC port: 8080
  17. Leave the remaining settings as they are.
  18. Tap the menu icon and then tap Save.
  19. Try opening something like Google.com — it worked for me!

Of course, when I get back to Australia and put in my Telstra SIM, I’m going to have to change that APN setting. Travis said all *should* need to do is select Reset to Default (at the Step 7 point above). Here’s hoping… otherwise I’ll have to talk to Telstra’s Support and previous experience tells me that this is NOT something I want to do. Telstra could learn a lot from T-Mobile in that regard.

See also:

Update: When I got back to Australia, I removed the T-Mobile SIM and replaced it with my Telstra SIM. The APN was automatically reset to the Telstra settings and I didn’t need to do anything! I could call, text and search the internet without changing anything. Nice.

[Link last checked March 2012]