Archive for July, 2020


Gender-neutral (and other alternative) terms

July 30, 2020

This list is for me for future reference. There are plenty of lists out there of gender-neutral terms, but some apply much more to the work I do than others, so I’ve started to keep a running list.

  • chairman — chair, chairperson
  • craftsman / craftsmanship — artisan / artisanship  artistry, expert / expertise, skill, mastery, craft, craftspeople
  • fireman — firefighter
  • fisherman — fisher, angler (only in reference to recreational fishing), commercial fisher, fish harvester, fish industry worker, fishing licencee
  • foreman — supervisor, team leader
  • fraternity — community, camaraderie, guild, affiliation, club, fellowship, house, kinship, order, solidarity, family, society
  • man (as in ‘man the desk’) — staff, supervise, manage, lead, handle, cover, run, oversee, work, person
  • man basket / man box — crane basket, suspended personnel platform, crane cage, construction basket, personnel basket, workbox
  • man-hours — person hours, work hours
  • man-made — artificial, manufactured, machine-made, synthetic, human-made, human-caused, handmade, hand-built, fabricated, constructed, factory-produced
  • manhole — access hole/hatch, utility hole, maintenance hole, sewer hole (if specifically related to a sewer), utility access hole, personnel access hole/hatch, work hole, inspection hole; also, consider if ‘point’ or ‘hatch’ is more accurate than ‘hole’
  • mankind — humanity, humankind, humans, human beings, people
  • manned — staffed, occupied, crewed, piloted, operated, human-operated
  • manning — staffing
  • manpower — workforce, human effort, labour, staff, workers, human resources, personnel
  • manway — see manhole (see also:
  • masterful — expert, accomplished
  • middleman — intermediary
  • patrolman — patrol, guard
  • policeman — police officer
  • unmanned — unpiloted, uncrewed, robotic, automatic (see also manned)
  • vessel master — captain, skipper
  • watchman – guard
  • workman — worker
  • workmanship — handiwork, craft, application

And others:

  • become blind to — ignore
  • black and white — monochrome
  • blind faith — unswerving belief
  • blind to — oblivious to, ignoring, overlooking
  • deaf to — ignoring, disregarding, unwilling to acknowledge, unwilling to hear or listen, callous
  • fresh eyes — fresh perspective
  • mecca — hub, hotspot, magnet
  • minorities — see the advice for ‘underrepresented’
  • put blinders on — limit (This one created some discussion on a Facebook group for editors as most said they only thought of that term in relation to limiting a horse’s vision. My response was that I’d wondered about that one too, but then I realised that there was another perfectly acceptable other word for the context that didn’t make me stop and think about it. If the reader has to hesitate to figure out the meaning, or to stop and think about the context, then I believe my job is to help take some of that hesitation away. In the context, it was used when referring to geologists who only see in rock formations what they want to see, and wasn’t related to preventing distraction [i.e. the geologists’ perspective was limited to what they’d learnt at university or in earlier jobs].)
  • spineless — cowardly, weak, unprincipled, corrupt
  • that’s lame — ridiculous
  • totem pole — organisational hierarchy, organisation chart (org chart)
  • underrepresented — check this one for context; if talking about groups of people, it may really mean ‘historically excluded’ or ‘traditionally excluded’ or just ‘excluded’

See also:

[Links last checked June 2022]


Logitech C270 webcam settings

July 29, 2020

In a previous post (, I mentioned that I purchased a Logitech C270 webcam for doing webinars, presentations (both on Zoom), video calls (Skype) etc. from my Windows 10 computer.

Although the webcam worked perfectly well out of the box and without any instructions, I’ve now downloaded the user manual and software for it, installed the software, and fiddled with the software’s settings. You can get the Logitech Camera Settings software for the C270 from here:–Downloads-HD-Webcam-C270, and the Getting Started manual from here: You may find you don’t need either if the camera works fine for you.

User manual

Seriously, don’t bother! Although my camera’s model/firmware etc. is dated 2020 (see below), the Getting Started manual only has instructions for Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 (Windows 8 came out in 2012!). The box has a single page illustrated ‘getting started’ sheet that shows you where to plug stuff. I thought the manual would have more; after all, the PDF had 168 pages. However, when I checked the table of contents, only pages 3 to 11 were in English, with the rest for 17 other languages. So there’s only 8 pages to read, but in reality it’s fewer than that: 2 pages of generic setup (as per the illustrated sheet in the box), 3 pages for Windows 8 (nothing for Windows 10, so while the webcam may be new, these instructions haven’t been updated), and 3 pages for Windows 7 and Vista. That means only 5 pages to read, some of which I’d already read from the sheet in the box. I only read the Windows 8 information, but this information was so out of date it was mostly useless for Windows 10. It talked about features in the Windows Camera app that no longer seem to exist, and referred to all sorts of things that just don’t apply to Windows 10 (e.g. Charms bar, Microsoft SkyDrive, Metro apps).

Logitech Camera Settings software (Build

After installing the software, I opened it. There’s no Help file at all, so I winged it with the settings. I’ve documented below what the default settings were for my camera. (NOTE: Your default settings may vary, depending on the light source, room lighting, etc. I believe the camera auto adjusts to this. I tested with mid-morning winter sunlight coming through my home office window—my office faces west, so there was no direct light; there was also reflected light from my two monitors, plus the two monitors on my right that I use for my main client’s laptop, and a ‘cool white’ LED light in the ceiling directly above my keyboard).

The information icon revealed this information about my camera:


  • USB Vendor ID (VID): 0X046D
  • USB Product ID (PID): 0X0825
  • Firmware version: 7.1.1011
  • EEPROM version: 1.27
  • Firmware CRC: 0XF3E0
  • Sensor version: 2.0


  • Build:
  • Copyright: 1996-2020 Logitech Inc.

Now to the settings. There are two tabs at the top of the screen—Home and Advanced, and you can only adjust light settings, not the microphone. Any settings you change are shown in real-time in the preview window. There’s no option to save the settings—they seem to save automatically. When you close then re-open the software, the settings are the same as when you last adjusted them. There’s also a big Restore defaults button if you happen to mess things up. The settings below were the defaults, and the information in parentheses shows what effect changing those settings had, for me; they may have different effects for you.


  • Image: Standard (selecting Widescreen added more space around my face; Standard seems perfect for webinars)
  • Anti Flicker: (nothing selected) I selected NTSC 60 Hz, but couldn’t see how to turn that off. When I closed then re-opened the software, PAL 50 Hz was selected. Later, after adjusting the Advanced settings, I went back to the Home screen and NTSC 60 Hz was selected again. I don’t know what controls this, and I don’t know what difference this makes to the video output.
  • The zoom in (+) button on the preview window does exactly that, and once zoomed in, the zoom out (-) button becomes available
  • I’m not sure what the central target and the side and top/bottom arrows do on the image of the face in the preview window—you can’t move them with the mouse. They may just be for visually centering your image in the frame.


  • Brightness: 50% (lowering the brightness darkened the background a bit, as well as my face, but my face was still lit OK; I left it at 50%)
  • Contrast: 12% (7% made the office shelves behind me more their natural colour, but reddened and blurred my face; 25% made the office shelves look black and was way too bright for my face; I left it at 12%)
  • Color intensity: 12% (lowering this value washed out the colour; 25% gave me a very red face; about 15% was just right—it added a bit of pink to my face, but not too much; I left it 12%)
  • Auto White Balance: ON and 3690K (turned OFF, it added white light to my face, then with AutoBalance OFF, at ~2000K my face was a washed-out grey, but at around 8000K the tones were more natural; I set this to OFF and set the white balance to about 8000K)

Finally, when I was looking for instructions for this software, I came across this YouTube video that shows you how to change the autofocus of this webcam to manual focus: WARNING: This video shows you how to open and adjust the focus ring, after snapping off the bit of glue holding it in place. You may not want to do this, and you’re likely to void any warranty if you do. My aim in sharing this link is for those who need to manually adjust the focus for a specific purpose (for example, the person who made this video is an artist and they needed to change the focus to the paper instead of their hands).

Update March 2021: You can use Logitech’s Capture software with this webcam (which isn’t normally supported) if you make some tweaks to the Capture config file. See Collin’s comment from March 2021 below, or, for full instructions, with screenshots, see this blog post:

[Links last checked March 2021]


Using Zoom to record a presentation with no audience

July 27, 2020

With conferences off my agenda for the next year or two, or more, as a result of COVID-19 I’m considering doing some pre-recorded webinars based on conference presentations I’ve done over the past few years. Time zone issues mean that presenting live to anywhere outside Australasia or east Asian countries is out of the question.

But first I needed to get a webcam for my computer (my laptop’s inbuilt webcam is very grey and grainy). Do you know how rare webcams became as everyone started working from home? My first purchase was a disaster (a $100 no-name one from Amazon, which overexposed everything no matter what light I used, and didn’t sync my moving lips with the sound it recorded; to their credit Amazon refunded me in full). My second purchase from a local retailer this past weekend (stocks are now returning to retailers) was more successful, and I now have a Logitech C270, which seems perfect for webinars as it doesn’t have a wide field of view and seems to focus more on your head and not everything else in the room. The light balance without using their software, which you have to download separately from the Logitech website, is good and so far I haven’t needed to install that software. The microphone seems to pick up voice well too, and there’s no time lag between my voice and my moving lips. I’ve only tested it with the Camera software that comes with Windows 10, and with Zoom.

Zoom will likely be my preference for recording any webinars I might do as it has screen sharing functions I’m familiar with from webinars I’ve presented that were hosted by professional organisations in Canada and New Zealand. But I’ve never hosted my own, nor have I tried to record myself presenting a webinar without an audience. It wasn’t easy to find out how to, using Zoom’s own help, but I found an excellent set of instructions from the University of Oklahoma that got me started: (I’ve put a copy of that PDF here Using Zoom to Record Presentations in case it disappears from the university’s website).

My first tests using those instructions worked well and I was able to record successfully.

Next step is to figure out how to show me as the active speaker (typically at the beginning and end to simulate a conference presentation) then switch to the PowerPoint slides and back again. Zoom has an option in the settings (Record settings) to display a small view of you presenting, or not, but I want to start off with a full face intro, and then switch to that thumbnail view while the slides take over. Back to the learning curve! I’ll update this post as I discover things. Of course, if someone already knows how to do this, feel free to comment!

Update 28 July 2020: I did a bit more testing with various settings and discovered these seemed to work best for my setup:

  • Wear the headset when recording and use the headset’s microphone as it’s clearer than the webcam’s mike (NOTE: I haven’t yet installed the Logitech webcam’s software, so I’m not sure if that will make a difference or not)
  • Zoom settings > Video: Touch up my appearance (I left the rest as the defaults)
  • Zoom settings > Share Screen: Side-by-side mode (rest were the defaults)
  • Zoom settings > Recording: Record video during screen sharing AND Place video next to the shared screen in the recording (rest were the defaults)
  • When you go to Shared Screen mode in the Zoom recording, resize the thumbnail to the maximum allowed, otherwise you’ll look like a small dot in the recording
  • PowerPoint > Slide Show tab > Set Up Slide Show: set the Show Type to Presentation by a speaker (full screen)

Switching from me as the active speaker to the shared screen and back again doesn’t appear to be very intuitive, and I couldn’t find a setting in Zoom to do this seamlessly. The only way I could do it is described in Steps 6 to 12 of the instructions below:

  1. Start PowerPoint and switch to presentation mode.
  2. Start Zoom and start a new meeting.
  3. If muted/turned off, unmute the audio and turn on the video in Zoom.
  4. Optional: Put on your headset if you’re going to use that microphone, then click the arrow next to Mute and select the headset’s microphone.
  5. Adjust the webcam to get your face in the viewport as you want.
  6. Ready? Click More (the three dots) in the Zoom controls and select Record on this computer.
  7. Start speaking and introduce your presentation. Where possible, speak to the webcam lens not the screen to be more personal to your audience. (Tip: Some people suggest putting a cutout of a friend’s picture next to the webcam and using that as your ‘audience’).
  8. Click Share Screen.
  9. Choose the screen to share (i.e. the full screen of the PowerPoint presentation). This puts the video of your face into a thumbnail view at the top right of the viewport being recorded.
  10. Optional: Resize the thumbnail to maximum size.
  11. Do the presentation.
  12. To return to the video of your face, click Stop Share to stop sharing the screen.
  13. Finalise what you have to say in the presentation, thank the attendees, then click End.
  14. Once you’ve clicked End, click End Meeting for All.
  15. Zoom will automatically create an MP4 file of the recording.
  16. Before distributing/publishing it, watch it and check for places that you may need to re-record. (I don’t know how to cut and splice changes into a video like this, but there will be software that does this. If it’s only a minor error, don’t fuss too much about it—it will show you’re human and that you make mistakes like everybody else. If you were on stage doing this presentation, you might make mistakes there too, and nobody would think less of you for it. Only re-record if there are major errors you want to correct, such as things not working as they should (practice several times beforehand), clothing that disappears into the background, background objects looking as though they are growing out of your head, family members or pets interrupting you, exceptionally loud noises coming from outside that you have no control over, etc. If this is a solo presentation for later distribution, then re-recording is not as disastrous as if it was a live presentation where these things went wrong.)

See also: 4-minute YouTube video of recording yourself in the presentation:

[Links last checked February 2021]


Word: Adding Alt Text to images

July 25, 2020

In later versions of Word, Microsoft uses some form of artificial intelligence (AI) to determine what is depicted in an image you insert into your document. The point of Alt text (alternative text) is to describe what’s in the image to those (perhaps with some form of vision impairment) ‘reading’ the document using a screen reader or other text-to-speech software. (Aside: Office 365 has ‘Read Aloud’ software built in to Word, PowerPoint, and Excel—in Word for Windows, it’s on the Review tab)

The problem? This AI is certainly not very intelligent, nor foolproof. As an example, I inserted an art quilt I made of a kangaroo hopping through a bushfire-ravaged area. Word labelled it as “A picture containing grass, sunset, painting, painted” (enlarge the screenshot below to see this wording). Nope, no grass. Yes, you could mistake the bushfire colours for a sunset, and yes, the stylised image could have been painted not stitched. No mention of the tree trunks or the kangaroo, though I would imagine the silhouette of the kangaroo is familiar to most. The other problem is that the auto-generated Alt Text isn’t just in Word, but saves into the PDF if you create a PDF from the document.

Screenshot of a Word document showing a picture of a kangaroo and the automatic Alt Text that does not mention the kangaroonot

Automatic Alt Text does not reflect what’s actually in the picture

So how do you change the Alt Text content that Word’s AI wants to insert for you?

  1. Select the image in the document. This will display the Picture Tools ribbon and the Format tab for that ribbon.
  2. Click Alt Text on the Format tab.
  3. Check the automatic Alt Text that Word’s AI has written for you and change it.
  4. Delete the ‘Description automatically generated’ line.
  5. Repeat the above steps for all other images in the document. (See below for how to jump from one image to the next without scrolling.)
  6. Save your changes.

I couldn’t see any way to jump from one image to the next from within the Alt Text pane, but there’s another way you can do it:

  1. Click Ctrl+f to open the Navigation pane.
  2. Click the drop-down arrow next to the magnifying glass icon in the search box.
  3. Select Graphics.
    Screenshot showing Navigation pane drop-dwon arrow with Graphics option highlighted
  4. Click the next or previous arrow keys to jump from one graphic to the next.
    Screenshot showing the next and previous arrow icons fro jumping to the next or previous graphic in the document

Finally, to show WHY you really need to manage the Alt Text yourself and NOT rely on AI to figure it out for you, here are some images of rock formations (some with pens or pencils to show scale) a geologist client sent me that shows how they were ‘interpreted’ by Word. The images are from a PDF created from the Word document. Note how the last two images are almost the same, yet are treated very differently by Word’s AI. Only one image mentions that it might be a rock! By the way, the document was on geology, so if Word’s AI was looking for context for these images, it only needed to scan the words in the document to realise these images were probably of rocks. Based on these images, I think AI has a LONG way to go…




Word: Format text marked with exclamation points as bold

July 18, 2020

One of my readers had a problem. Their author had marked up words they wanted as bold with exclamation points. For example, ‘make !this text! bold, and !this! too’.

You can use a simple wildcard find and replace to find all such terms, delete the exclamation points, and make the found text bold.

  1. Press Ctrl+h to open the Find and Replace window. Make sure you’re on the Replace tab.
  2. Click More, then select the Use wildcards checkbox.
  3. In the Find field, type: (\!)(*)(\!)
  4. In the Replace field, type: \2
  5. With the cursor still in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and then select Bold from the Font Style list.
  6. Click Find Next.
  7. Assuming the text string found is what you want, click Replace.
  8. Repeat Steps 6 and 7 until all such strings are found and replaced. If you are confident that nothing else will get replaced, click Replace All, but be careful—if the author has missed a beginning exclamation mark, the wrong text will have bold applied to it.

Here’s how the find/replace works:

  • (\!): An exclamation point is a special character in wildcards, so to treat it as an exclamation point and not as the special character, you have to ‘escape’ the character by adding a \ before it. The parentheses enclose this element as you need to eliminate this exclamation point in the replace. There are two of these—one at the beginning (position 1) and end (position 3) of the Find string.
  • (*): Finds anything between the first element (the first exclamation point) and the next element (also an exclamation point). This is position 2 in the Find string.
  • \2: We want to replace what was found with just the text between the exclamation points, and ignore (delete) the exclamation points, so we put in \2 to tell word just to replace whatever you found at position 2 with itself.
  • By clicking Format > Font and selecting Bold, we tell Word to make whatever you replaced bold; this is shown by Font: Bold below the Replace with field.



Word: Convert a PDF to a Word document

July 14, 2020

Back in the day, to get a PDF into Word was an exercise in frustration and results varied. However, the process is MUCH simpler in Word 365 and the results are very good. You also only need Word, not Adobe Acrobat, to do this conversion, so there’s no extra software you need to purchase.

  1. Open Word.
  2. Go to File > Open.
  3. Click Browse and navigate to the folder containing the PDF.
  4. Change the file type to PDF Files (*.pdf) (the default is All Word Documents).
  5. Select the PDF you want to convert, then click Open.
  6. You’ll get a message that Word will try to convert the PDF into a Word document, with a proviso that you may not get everything exactly as it was. Click OK. (You may get another message that parts of the document can’t be converted; click OK on this message too.)
  7. The document will open in a new instance of Word, and it will be set to Protected View.
  8. Click Enable Editing.
  9. You’ll get another message like that in Step 6. Click OK.
  10. The document will now open in Word, but the title bar will still show .pdf. (I think it is a legitimate Word document at this point, but to be sure, complete the final steps.)
  11. Go to File > Save As.
  12. Change the file type to Word Document (*.docx). Optional: Change the file location and filename (e.g. delete the .pdf part) too, if you need to.
  13. The document is now ready for you to edit/fix up.

Word: Displaying a style in the Styles gallery on the Home tab

July 9, 2020

Scenario: Not all the heading styles you need are shown in the Styles gallery on the Home tab in Word for Windows. For example, you can see Heading 1, but not Heading 2. You want to add Heading 2 to this gallery. I’ll use this as my example in the instructions below—modify according to the style you want to add.

Styles gallery on the Home tab, which shows Heading 1 but not Heading 2

Styles gallery on the Home tab, which shows Heading 1 but not Heading 2

There are two main steps you need to do—make sure that Heading 2 is shown in the Styles pane, and then modify the settings for Heading 2 to show it in the gallery. (Yes, I know there are there ways to do this, but for someone unfamiliar with styles, this is the simplest step-by-step set of instructions that assume little to no knowledge of styles.)

1. Show the style in the Styles pane

  1. At the bottom far right corner of the Gallery group on the Home tab, there’s a tiny arrow. Click that arrow to open the Styles pane.
  2. At the bottom of the Styles pane, click the Manage Styles icon.
  3. Click the Recommend tab on the Manage Styles window.
  4. Change the Sort option to Alphabetical—this makes it easier to find the style name.
  5. Find and select the name of the style you want to display in the Styles pane. It is likely set to (Hide until used). In this example, select Heading 2 (Hide Until Used).
  6. Click Show.
  7. Don’t close the Manage Styles window yet as you’ll do more things on it to modify the style.

2. Modify the settings for the style to show it in the Styles gallery

  1. On the Manage Styles window, click the Edit tab.
  2. Find and select the style you want to show in the Styles gallery (in this example, Heading 2).
  3. Click Modify.
  4. On the Modify Style window, select the Add to the Styles gallery checkbox.
  5. Click OK to close the Modify Style window.
  6. Click OK again to close the Manage Styles window.
  7. Your style should now be visible in the Styles gallery on the Home tab.


Word: Document goes to ‘read-only’ for no reason

July 3, 2020

Note (3 July 2020): This is an updated version for Word 365 (for Windows) of the original post for Word 2007 (

I’m not sure how widespread this problem is, but I’ve seen it a few times, and one of my work colleagues gets it regularly:

  • You’re happily working in a Word document, saving as you go, when all of a sudden you can’t save as you get a message that the document is set to ‘read-only’
  • You save and close a Word document, re-open it, work on it, try to save it again but get the ‘read-only’ message.

The workaround I’ve used to date has been to do a ‘save as’ and save the document with a slightly different file name.

However, after my colleague said that she’s getting the message all the time on a specific document, it was time for me to go off to Google and check if anyone else gets this and how they solved it.

Here are some possible solutions I found:

  • Turn off Allow Background Saves. There may be a conflict with when you do a manual save and the automatic save (File > Options > Advanced > Save subsection).
  • Turn off AutoRecover (File > Options > Save > Save AutoRecover information every xx minutes).
  • Open the Save As window (quickest — press F12 to open the Save As window, OR File > Save As > More options (link), Once you’re on the Save As window, click the Tools drop-down (to the immediate left of the Save button) > General Options > the clear the Read-only Recommended check box if it’s checked.
  • Reboot your computer and immediately check your Temp and Templates folders for lurking temporary files not deleted properly (don’t open any Office applications until after you’ve done this—your Temp folder should be empty after a fresh reboot). Your Temp folder is located here: C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Local\Temp. Also check in C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates to make sure that there are no temp files there too. Temp files are easy to spot—they have a tilde (~) in front of the file name and have a tmp file extension.
  • Try saving to your Documents folder (if you normally save to a network location or some other folder) to see if this makes any difference.
  • Make sure the document you have open is not sitting inside a Zip file.
  • Check Windows Explorer and make sure you don’t have the document open in Preview pane view as this will lock it (in Windows 10, open Windows Explorer and go to View > Panes group > Preview pane).
  • Make sure the document you are trying to save is not an Outlook attachment that’s still open in Outlook.
  • Set your anti-virus (AV) software to not scan Word 365 files. Personally, I’d try this one as a last resort; also, in some corporate environments, you may not be able to change your AV settings.

[Link last checked July 2020]