Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

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Acrobat: Bad parameter error when try to delete pages in a PDF

May 12, 2021

For my future reference, in case I ever get this error message again—the steps in solution 1 on this page worked for me! https://helpx.adobe.com/au/acrobat/kb/bad-parameter-while-deleting-pages-in-acrobat.html

In case that page ever goes missing or gets relocated, here’s the summary of the steps that worked for me in my Acrobat XI Pro version, with some minor edits by me:

Combine the PDF with another PDF

  1. Before you start, create and save a blank, single-page PDF from Word, or some other program.
  2. Launch Acrobat, and then choose File > Create > Combine Files into a Single PDF.
  3. Click the Add Files menu and choose Add Files.
  4. Browse and select the PDF file that shows the ‘Bad Parameter’ error, and then click Open.
  5. Click the Add Files menu and choose Add Files.
  6. Browse and select another PDF file, preferably the blank one you created at Step 1, and then click Open.
  7. Click Combine or Combine Files. The selected files are combined into a single PDF, and the file (Binder1.pdf) is opened in Acrobat.
  8. Save the file. Select all the pages you added to the PDF using the Combine Files operation (the pages of another PDF you selected while combining files). Delete the selected pages:
    • In Acrobat DC/2017, choose View > Tools > Organize Pages > Open. Select the pages you want to delete, and then click the Delete icon or press Delete.
    • In Acrobat XI, choose View > Tools > Pages. Select the pages you want to delete, and then click Delete in the right pane or press Delete.
  9. Save the file again. To see if the error still occurs, try to delete a page from the PDF.

[Link last checked May 2021]

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Word: Modern Comments means the price goes up as productivity takes a massive hit

May 4, 2021

Modern Comments (horrible name!) haven’t rolled out to my Word 365 (Windows) version as yet, so today I turned off Updates to prevent them from being installed (File > Account > Update Options button). Of course, I won’t get any other updates either, but at the moment I certainly don’t want the hit to my productivity (or to quotes I’ve already had accepted for upcoming work) that these Modern Comments seem to guarantee. Unfortunately, I can’t stop updates on my anchor client’s laptop, so me turning them off on my own computer may only be a temporary measure.

Hopefully the screams from the writing and editing community, education sector, legal sector etc. will be heard and an option will be given to revert to traditional comments. For details on the changes, see this article and then read the very polite comments below it (polite considering the underlying anger about this change): https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-365-blog/introducing-modern-comments-in-microsoft-word/ba-p/2263182

For me, the main issues with Modern Comments will be:

  • Autocorrect not working
  • Formatting (other than very basic) not working, so no sub/superscripts in comments or highlight colours
  • Spellcheck not working
  • Interface and page layout issues—way too much screen real estate is used; comment icons aren’t attached by a line to the commented on text and float and jump around, etc.
  • Extra keystrokes to add a comment—it seems you can still insert a comment using Ctrl+Alt+M, but you can’t just click out and the comment automatically saves. Instead, you have to click a button to save the comment, otherwise you lose it (update: or use Ctrl+Enter).

One of the long documents I edited was a technical safety case for an oil platform. It was 370 pages and once I was finished I’d added more than 11,000 tracked changes, of which 700+ were comments. Many of those comments were added using AutoCorrect shortcuts, whereby I type a few keystrokes which then automatically expand into a sentence or two. In addition to saving time, these AutoCorrects also mean that my comments are consistent every time, something we ask of our authors. (See: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/word-use-the-power-of-autocorrect-to-save-heaps-of-time/)

Editing this document with Modern Comments would have added at least 10 to 20 hours to the time. I charge by the hour, so yes, I make more money the more hours I work, but I aim to be as efficient as possible and work within budgeted time frames and deadlines.

I can’t take this hit to my productivity, not to mention the tedium of typing the same comment over and over, nor the extra hours required to edit a document. Extra hours means the client has to pay more, and I have to factor in that extra time if I’m doing a quote (and I can’t increase the estimated hours for quotes already accepted). For those who charge by the word or the job, they’ll have to increase their rates to allow for the extra time that they’ll need to add and edit their comments, otherwise they’ll be losing income.

Microsoft needs to fix this!

More information:

[Links last checked May 2021]

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Get rid of WinZip popups

April 26, 2021

There’s a special place in hell reserved for software developers that set things to run behind the scenes that pop up to annoy users. I’m looking at you, WinZip! Ever since I installed my current—paid for—version of WinZip Pro (version 24) , it’s bombarded me with advertising and promotional popups several times a day, even if I’m right in the middle of work. Not only is it intrusive, but it’s unwanted and unwarranted for someone who has paid for a professional licence. And there’s nowhere in the interface settings where I could find anything that would turn off these popups and notifications. Today I snapped and decided to find out how to turn them off for good (or at least until I buy the next version of WinZip).

Because WinZip has no setting for this [grrrr!], you have to go into Windows task scheduler and turn it off there. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Run window (click the Start button and type Run, or press Windows key + R).
  2. Type compmgmt.msc
  3. On the left of the Computer Management window, expand System Tools > Task Scheduler, then select Task Scheduler Library.
  4. In the top panel, scroll down to the end of the list until you find the WinZip Update Notifier entries (I had three). Each is set to update and notify at certain times of the day.
  5. Select any or all of the WinZip Update Notifier entries.
  6. In the lower right panel, click Delete.
  7. Click Yes to confirm the deletion.
  8. Close the Computer Management window.

With luck, you shouldn’t get any further popup notifications from WinZip.

And WinZip, if you’re listening, either get rid of these things altogether for licensed Pro users and/or give the user a simple way to turn the damned things off!

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My writing technology journey

April 21, 2021

A post on Twitter got me thinking about how much the writing technology I’ve used since I learned to write at school has changed. And how much it hasn’t changed in the past 30 years!

Here’s a summary of my writing technology journey:

  1. Crayons (before I went to school)
  2. ‘Black Prince’ pencil (brand of thick pencil for the early school years)
  3. Pencil (including my favourite—the ‘indelible ink’ pencil)
  4. Ink pen with replaceable nib (wooden stylus; ink in an ink pot in the school desk, and later my own bottle of Quink ink)
  5. Fountain pen with refillable cartridge, and later with ink cartridges you could swap out (oh, they were wondrous things—no more messy ink to deal with!)
  6. Ballpoint pen
  7. Manual typewriter
  8. Electric typewriter (IBM Selectric, I think)
  9. Typewriter with a tiny LCD display
  10. MicroBee something-or-other word processing software, and a few others I’ve long forgotten
  11. WordStar (an incredibly useful piece of software when it later came to writing HTML code as many of the tags were similar)
  12. Microsoft Word.

My Word journey started in the very early 1990s, and I’ve used various Help authoring programs in the intervening years, but ultimately, Word has been my main writing tool for the past 30 years. It has changed a lot, yet still remains much the same in its basic functions.

See also:

[Links last checked April 2021]

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Word: Reformat text inside quote marks using wildcards

April 16, 2021

A user on an editors’ Facebook group wanted to know if they could use a wildcard find and replace to reformat (perhaps by using different coloured text, highlighting, bold, italics etc.) the text in between quote marks to distinguish the quotations from other text in the document.

This is an ideal job for using wildcards in Word’s find and replace.

But some warnings apply:

  • There are several types of quote marks—single, double, with straight or curly variations for these, and some people may even type two single quote marks to represent a double quote mark, or use prime and double prime characters to represent a quote mark. The only SURE way to identify the marks used by the author are to copy them from the document and paste them into the Find field.
  • This Find/Replace DOES NOT WORK with single straight quotes—the character used for an apostrophe and to start and end a quotation is the same, so you won’t get the results you expect. Any string of text between one apostrophe and another will also be captured.
  • Make sure the quoted passage has both a starting and ending quote mark. If the end quote mark is missing, the change will occur to ALL text from the beginning quote mark to the next end quote mark found, which could be some pages away.
  • Beware of apostrophes used within a quotation when the quotation is surrounded by single curly quote marks—the Find will find up to the apostrophe, NOT to the ending single curly quote mark. This is because the symbol for an apostrophe and the ending single curly quote mark is the same character.
  • The safest practice is to check what’s found and click Replace if it matches, NOT Replace All.
  • ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS test this on a copy of the document before you use it on the original document.

So, if you’re using double quotes (straight or curly), or single curly quotes, you can use this Find/Replace. I explain what the settings mean after these steps, if you’re interested. Meantime, here’s my solution, which works in all versions of Word:

  1. If you want to identify the quoted sections with a highlight colour, choose it first. Ignore this step if you want to change the font colour or styling.
  2. Select the text you want to change (e.g. entire document, selected paragraphs, selected columns or rows of a table).
  3. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace dialog box.
  4. Click the More button.
  5. Select the Use wildcards check box.
  6. Put your cursor into the Find what field—what you do next depends on the type of quote mark used in the document:
    • Straight double quotes: type the quote mark, followed immediately by an asterisk, then another quote mark.
    • Curly quotes (single or double): copy an opening quote mark from the document and paste it into the Find field, then type an asterisk immediately after it, then copy/paste the ending quote mark immediately after the asterisk.
  7. In the Replace with field, type: ^&
  8. Click the Format button.
  9. If you want to apply highlighting to the found text, select Highlight. If you want to apply character formatting (colour, bold, italics, etc.), select Font, select the character styling you want, then click OK.
  10. Your Find and Replace dialog box should look something like this, with the highlighting or character styling choice shown below the Replace with field:
  11. Click Find. Check the text found is what you expect—if so, click Replace, then click Find Next. Avoid clicking Replace All unless you are absolutely certain all quotes have a starting and ending quote mark and that there are no apostrophes within a quote.

What it all means

The quotes in the Find are self-explanatory. The asterisk between them says to find any number of characters (including spaces, punctuation marks, letters, numbers, etc.) between the first quote mark found and the next one found. NOTE: If the find/replace doesn’t match anything, check the type of quote marks you’re using and make sure you copy/paste the opening and closing ones into their correct position in the Find.

The ^& in the Replace says to replace whatever is found with itself (in other words, make no changes to the characters), and the font styling/highlighting below the Replace field tells word to make the replaced text that colour or style.

See also:

[Links last checked April 2021]

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Word: Subscript and superscript weirdness

March 30, 2021

I received a document to edit last week and noticed that a word, which was spelt correctly, had a red squiggly line underneath it.

I checked the spelling language set for the word and it was English, as I expected. I tried retyping the word, and inserting the correct variation from the spelling options. All to no avail. The red squiggly stayed. Eventually, I retyped the whole thing, from CO2 onwards and the red squiggly went away.

I started to notice that some other words weren’t behaving correctly, particularly those with superscripts and subscripts. I couldn’t identify what was causing the weirdness, but then I noticed a TINY speck on the screen. Was it a speck of dust on my screen (memo to self: clean screens more often!) or something in the document? I increased the zoom on the page to 400% and the specks didn’t change size, but they did remain in the same position, so I knew they were IN the doc, and not on the screen.

Here’s an example of these tiny dots. In the first image, the zoom is 100% and the dots are either side of the ‘8’ but at the bottom of the letter forms. These are NOT the periods surrounding ‘min’, but the tiny dots surrounding the subscripted 8. The second and third images are of the same thing, but at much higher zoom percentages—notice that the size of the dots hardly changes. And that they are almost impossible to see.

My first step in trying to identify these dots was to select some text that contained the superscript and the dots and press Ctrl+[spacebar] to remove the manual formatting and take that selected text back to the base style of the paragraph. And that’s when I was able to unmask the weirdness!

Look at what this passage looked like when the manual formatting was removed.

Those tiny dots were actually text—in this case ‘PPP’ surrounding a superscript character. I did a search for PPP and found 37 instances. Each instance surrounded a superscripted number.

Was this the cause of the spelling error for the word after CO2 I’d first discovered and couldn’t fix easily? I went to one of the CO2 instances and selected the tiny dot—it was set to a weird font and was 1 pt in size. A 1 pt font that’s super or subscripted? You’re never going to see that easily!

Then I removed the manual formatting for some text around ‘CO2’ and found that the subscripted ‘2’ was surrounded by the letter ‘R’. I did a search for COR2R and found 854 instances! Find and replace took care of those for me, then I did another search for R2R as this document included H2S, NO2, etc. as well, and cleaned up some more.

The final oddity I found wasn’t surrounding a superscript or subscript at all—instead it was near a semicolon. In the image below, look for the tiny dot on the first line after the space and before the ‘M’, and immediately after the semicolon on the third line.

When I took the manual formatting off, another string of strange characters appeared—’65T’ repeated several times. Again, find and replace sorted those out too.

What had caused them? I contacted the author to find out if parts of this document had been copied from a PDF (the ZWAdobeF font was a clue). They said it hadn’t. Besides, what I found wasn’t indicative of the usual errors you’d find when copying or converting from a PDF. I also asked if anyone had used Word for Mac or worked on this document in Google Docs. ‘No’ on both accounts, as far as they knew. They said it had only been worked on in the corporate environment, but there are things like SharePoint, OneDrive etc. that may be at play here. Not likely, but possible.

So it’s a mystery as to how these things occurred in the first place. And it’s only by good luck and some sleuthing that I was able to identify them and correct them.

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Word: Keyboard shortcuts for macros are not working

March 24, 2021

Whoa! I just discovered this one. All of a sudden my keyboard shortcuts to apply specific macros weren’t working. I’d been using them extensively on a 300p document, but suddenly they stopped working. I closed the document and reopened it, but that didn’t make any difference. I tried a couple of other things, but nope, they still didn’t work. I checked that the keyboard shortcuts were still assigned to those macros, and they were. And the macros worked fine if I ran them from the Macros window. So, there was nothing wrong with the macros or the keyboard assignments.

And then I spotted it—the light for CAPS LOCK was on. Could that be it? It was! When I turned it off, my keyboard shortcuts worked fine. To test it, I turned CAPS LOCK back on and the keyboard shortcuts didn’t work. Turned it off, and they did.

What this means is that keyboard shortcuts you assign to Word macros seem to be case sensitive.

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How to get the parts of a YouTube video using JDownloader

March 12, 2021

I was testing out JDownloader2 (an open source download manager) the other day for a completely different purpose when I discovered that it can split a YouTube video into its component parts, which you can then download individually or as a group.

Depending on what was uploaded to YouTube, the component parts may include the audio only (M4A format), the video (MP4; includes audio), the title image (JPG), the description (TXT), and/or the subtitles (SRT file).

It’s certainly an easier way to do it than to use a conversion program—just open JDownloader, copy the YouTube URL to the clipboard, and it will automatically get added to JDownloader, ready for you to expand the entry and then download one or more, or all, parts.

 

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Using Logitech Capture software with a Logitech C270 webcam

March 3, 2021

The Logitech C270 webcam is very limited in its settings. You can adjust it a little (see this earlier blog post of mine: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2020/07/29/logitech-c270-webcam-settings/), but you can’t use the more advanced Logitech Capture software (https://www.logitech.com/en-au/product/capture) with the C270 ‘out of the box’. According to the requirements on that Logitech Capture webpage, the C270 is not supported hardware for that software, and if you download the software anyway, it won’t recognise your C270 webcam.

However, one of my readers, Collin, in a comment on my original post, described how to get Capture to work with the C270. I’ve rewritten his instructions below, adding some screenshots and things I found when I followed them. These instructions are for Windows 10.

  1. Download the Capture software from the Logitech website.
  2. Virus check the exe file (as you should with any software you download), then install it.
  3. On the Start button, search for and open Device Manager.
  4. Expand Cameras or Imaging Devices (on my computer, my webcam was listed under Imaging Devices—I didn’t have Cameras listed at all).
  5. Right-click on the name of the webcam and select Properties.
  6. On the Properties window, click the Details tab.
  7. Click the dropdown arrow next to the Property field and select Hardware Ids.
  8. The IDs are listed and you will need these in later steps. You can either leave this window open (easiest) or copy them to Notepad (or a similar text editor). The settings for MY webcam are shown below—your VID or PID values may be different, so don’t use those in this screenshot.
  9. Now you need to change the Capture configuration file to add your webcam to the list of supported cameras. Go to the C:\Program Files\Logitech\LogiCapture\bin folder.
  10. Find the LogiCapture.exe.config file.
  11. Optional: Just to be safe, copy this file and rename the copy as z_original_LogiCapture.exe.config—if things don’t work, you can always delete the file you’re about to modify, then remove the z_original_ part of this file’s name to revert back to the original.
  12. Open the LogiCapture.exe.config file in Notepad (or a similar text editor; I use EditPlus).
  13. Press Ctrl+F to open the Find window.
  14. In the Find What field, type HD Pro Webcam C920, then click Find.
  15. The first line found will start with <device guid= and end with that device’s name.
  16. Put your cursor in front of <device guid= for that line, then select from there to the first </device> line you find. (My Edit Plus software shows line numbers and the first line is 301 and the last line for the settings for that device is line 389, so you’ve got a bit of scrolling to do).
  17. Once you’ve selected that whole section for that device, copy it.
  18. Go to the end of the </device> line from Step 16 above, press Enter to create a new line, then paste the selected lines for the original device.
  19. You now need to modify this new section. Don’t worry—you only have to change information on the first line.
  20. In this new section, change the name from Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 to Logitech HD Webcam C270 (or whatever YOUR device is called in Device Manager—refer back to the open Device Manager window to get the exact name).
  21. The other two things you may have to change are the VID and PID values in the first line. Again, go back to the list of Device Manager hardware IDs for your device. In my case (the screenshot in Step 8), the VID ID was 046D and that was already listed in my first line, so I didn’t need to change it. However, the original PID was 082D and I needed to change that to 0825 (remember, YOUR values may be different). My changes looked like this:
  22. Save the file. You may be asked to save with Admin privileges—click the option to do so.
  23. Check the file name still ends with .config and not .config.txt—if it ends with .txt, delete that part of the file name and click OK when you get the warning that this could make the file unusable.
  24. You can now close Device Manager and any text editor program you have open.

Confirm that Capture can see your C270 webcam

  1. Open the Logitech Capture software.
  2. When you first open it, no source (i.e. camera) is selected—you have to tell the software what webcam you’re using.
  3. Click Source 1 in the left panel.
  4. Click the arrow next to None to see all available Logitech webcams you have installed.
  5. Assuming you followed all the instructions above correctly, you should see your Logitech C270 webcam listed.
  6. Select it. Your webcam will turn on.
  7. You can now use all the setting options in the left panel to adjust light, zoom etc. As you change the settings, the camera image on the right changes to reflect those settings. NOTE: Collin recommended that you DON’T change the resolution to anything higher than 720p (the default for me); in his words ‘it will just look like crap’. He also said that some other settings may be incompatible, but only trial and error will show what they are. All the settings I tried for 720p resolution seemed to work, except those that are locked unless you are signed into Logitech.

Again, thank you Collin for the information that allowed me to use Capture software with my ‘unsupported’ Logitech webcam.

[Links last checked March 2021]

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Office 2021 standalone version announced

February 20, 2021

For those not on an Office 365 subscription who wish to stay with a standalone version, Microsoft has just announced that there will be an Office 2021 available to purchase.

Details: https://gizmodo.com/microsoft-announces-the-next-subscription-less-versions-1846303690

[Link last checked February 2021]