Posts for 12/2009

31 December 2009 - 19:00
30 December 2009 - 13:26

Adding a public folder to Outlook favorites

Add to Favorites

If you right click a public folder in Outlook, and choose the option to 'Add to favorites', you'll add this favorite to the Public folder favorites only.
But if you thought or wanted it to appear in the main mailbox favorites, you'll notice or have noticed already that nothing was actually happened.

No need to feel defeated any more, as the solution is really simple, although unfortunately not 'obvious' at all:
simply right click the Public folder favorites folder shortcut that you created earlier, and then select 'Add to favorites' again and hey presto, the favorite is now going to show up in your main mailbox favorites area.

(0) Comments ·
29 December 2009 - 08:05

On the topic of manuals, books, training and … pedagogy

When doing trainings, mostly IT trainings, a couple of questions pop-up from time to time.
Like : do you have some suggestions for a good book? Or which book do you use during your training? Or how to you organize your training?

Well firstly I have to say I don't really follow or use a manual or book when I teach.
At several occasions over the years, people personally expressed their gratitude for that, so this only fortified this conscious choice of course.

Of course this doesn't mean that I don't use a structure and/or the structure doesn't or couldn't match a manual or book.
I actually work with detailed mind-mapped structures for all of my course contents - this gives me great flexibility and the possibility to concentrate fully on the learning process itself.
I always start a course by feeling the pulse and asking participants what they want to learn. I then present the overall course contents - tailored and adapted to the level and specific questions or desiderata.
But I keep a great amount of margin to be able to surf and adapt to what the group dynamics actually bring in - in my personal view it's exactly here the magic of the pedagogical process hides.

Even when examples and structure may be identical, I always inspire questions, reflections and exchange to a maximum possible and address them with mind-mapped content.
Pedagogically that implies that I envisage to focus energy on the learning process itself more and that yet another input source as a book, manual or powerpoint content generally isn't really appropriate.
So practically every course is rather or completely different as every group and group dynamic process 'of course' always differentiates.

Now I do understand the (psychological?) need of having a written manual or book and generally refer to those as an 'after course implementation' resource.
But then it always seems hard to me to come up with suggestions which fully satisfy me - what is a good book anyway?
But even if haven't fully figured out what a 'perfect IT Manual or book' for me would be I know in which direction I'm looking: resources which focus on conceptual learning and transfer of knowledge, which don't contain overloads of written text, and use a lot of schemes and mappings, as this is the way we program our brains basically ...

Some miscellaneous links in the margin of this topic

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28 December 2009 - 07:14

Reversed Engineering on a pivot table in Excel

When you've created a pivot table in Excel, you can drill down on the results by double clicking on them - Excel then creates a new worksheet with the individual lines behind the result.
If you do so with the grand totals, all the lines, i.e. the full source sheet will be inserted into the new worksheet.

results in a pivot table like format without being a pivot table

So far so good.
But what if you have to do it the other way? I.e. if you have the results in a pivot table like format, e.g. provided by your database administrator in a simple Excel sheet - you can't do the drill down as you don't really have a pivot table. And you need to recompose the individual line behind the construction?
A simple reconstruction with some images of the starting and end situation will probably make the point clearer.

end result of the operation

To get to the desired result you'll need to do some 'reversed engineering' which is possible via the Pivot Table and Chart Wizard (which is not directly available any-more from the ribbons in Excel 2007, so if you use this version, you need to add this feature through the Customized Option for the Quick Access Toolbar). You'll find more information on this feature from the Microsoft Office site.

The wizard provides in an option to create a Pivot Table from a 'Multiple Consolidated range' of cells - even if you select just one range of data (with row and column labels), Excel is going to treat the data very much like in the Data/Consolidate feature. Each column become a data series, which is then used to compute a new pivot table. And even it's very near or exactly the same as the original data list, you know have a pivot table with access to the grand totals which you can double click to.... obtain the envisage individual results.

The Spreadsheet Page describes the procedure with screenshots for older Excel versions, but also provides in a macro automatising the whole procedure, at the following link.

Sub ReversePivotTable()
'Before running this, make sure you have a summary table with column headers.
'The output table will have three columns.
Dim SummaryTable As Range, OutputRange As Range
Dim OutRow As Long
Dim r As Long, c As Long

On Error Resume Next
Set SummaryTable = ActiveCell.CurrentRegion
If SummaryTable.Count = 1 Or SummaryTable.Rows.Count < 3 Then
	MsgBox "Select a cell within the summary table.", vbCritical
	Exit Sub
End If
SummaryTable.Select
Set OutputRange = Application.InputBox(prompt:="Select a cell for the output", Type:=8)
'Convert the range
OutRow = 2
Application.ScreenUpdating = False
OutputRange.Range("A1:C3") = Array("Column1", "Column2", "Column3")
For r = 2 To SummaryTable.Rows.Count
  For c = 2 To SummaryTable.Columns.Count
   OutputRange.Cells(OutRow, 1) = SummaryTable.Cells(r, 1)
   OutputRange.Cells(OutRow, 2) = SummaryTable.Cells(1, c)
   OutputRange.Cells(OutRow, 3) = SummaryTable.Cells(r, c)
   OutputRange.Cells(OutRow, 3).NumberFormat = SummaryTable.Cells(r, c).NumberFormat
   OutRow = OutRow + 1
  Next c
Next r
End Sub
(0) Comments ·
23 December 2009 - 03:38

How to extract images from mail messages and / or PowerPoint slideshows?

This is actually very simple, although perhaps not that obvious at first sight (or trial).
The answer is : Save As Html.

save as html

And that's valid for any Office document basically.
Have a mail message with some nice images you'd like to use? Just go to the File menu or Office button and choose to 'Save as' - then change the option 'Save as type' to Web page - html. The system is going to produce an Html file in the folder you selected as well as a subfolder with all the 'dependant' files for the html page to render properly, like CSS files and graphic files. And that's it !

Same procedure for other programs like e.g. PowerPoint slideshows: just save it to you harddisk, open it in PowerPoint, then save as Html and presto.

(0) Comments ·
19 December 2009 - 12:31

The power of the summit

If we'll remember one thing from the month of December 2009, then it's likely to be Copenhagen Summit in Denmark on environmental issues. If not because of it's size, it's worldwide media coverage, it's political impact or lack of impact and it's result or lack of result... definitely just because of it's overall importance.

If you like clear thinking and a change of perspective which that often brings along, then here's the 'Clear Thinking' issue which landed in my email box at the time of the Summit's 'warm-up'.
Clear Thinking is a bi-monthly published E-zine by the hand of Mike George, a lucid English author and lecturer on topics dealing with Change, Change Management and Change of Consciousness.
You can subscribe using this link..

Clear Thinking

The power of the summit

Will you be listening for the good news from Denmark next month? Will you be waiting to hear what changes lies in store for your lifestyle? Will you hope that ‘they’ can resolve their differences and heal the world? Yet another meeting of ‘our representatives’ will bring together those who believe that they have the ‘power to influence’ all our futures. The Copenhagen summit on climate change will once again focus minds in search of joint solutions to the environmental issues that transcend all borders. Decisions will be made that may affect generations to come. Past summits seem to have done little to translate whatever consensus was achieved into decisive action. Already the leaders who will convene next month are telling us that new decisions cannot be taken as there is not enough time to organize the right ideas, draft the treaties and build consensus. While many despair at a repeating pattern of disagreement and division, prevarication and delay, others have given up hope that anything significant can be done at such gatherings of the so called movers and shakers.

[Read more on The power of the summit...]
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18 December 2009 - 12:28

Prevent forced reboot after Windows Update operations

If you don't like to be forced to reboot after yet another Windows Update, then know you actually have a way out.

windows update message

There's several fields to play on actually, depending on what you want to achieve and on the Operating System itself.

  • You can fine-tune the behaviour of the 'Automatic Updates' feature through the 'Security Center' in your Control Panel.
  • At any given moment you can also intervene on the Service triggered off, by removing it or by changing it's settings ; it this case the 'Automatic Updates' (wuauserv service)
  • You can intervene on the Group Policy settings through the Local Security Settings in the Administrative Tools; eg the path to walk on XP is: Local Computer Policy - Computer Configuration - Administrative Templates - Windows Components - Windows Update, then set to no auto-restart for scheduled updates
  • Finally, you can also add a registry setting to change the behaviour through Regedit at the Run command prompt: NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers registry value in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU with dword value to 1.

A nice overview actually of how you'd typically approach more advanced interventions on a Windows system.
You'll find all detailed explanations on the above pathways at following sites:

(1) Comments ·
15 December 2009 - 04:16

Import WordPerfect 4 Files into Microsoft Word

In the prolongation of a previously published entree on text conversion problems with Word, I received a mail from someone who was searching for the old Wordperfect 4.2 conversion file, not available anymore in the last MS Office releases (WPFT432.CNV).

The place to be is an article called 'How to Import WordPerfect Files into Microsoft Word', published on http://www.columbia.edu/~em36/wpdos.
Somewhere within that page, you can download A replacement set of conversion filters for use by Microsoft Word.
There are the filters for the WP 5.X version, but also for WP 4.0 - the procedure described for WP 4.2 is the same, so you only need to copy the files to the described location (in a typical install under Win XP: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\TextConv).

However to get the converter presented in Word along with the other converters, you need to tweak the registry. To ease the process, you could safe following lines to a text file, save it as wp42update.reg or something; just double click the file will insert these lines in the appropriate places in the registry:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Text Converters\Import\WrdPrfct4Dos]
"Path"="C:\\Program Files\\Common Files\\Microsoft Shared\\Textconv\\wpft432.cnv"
"Name"="WordPerfect 4.x"
"Extensions"="doc"

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Text Converters\Import\WrdPrfct4Dos\Options]
"DisplayWPGDialog"="No"
"Name"="WordPerfect 4.x"
"FavourSequenceFields"="Yes"
"FavourAppearance"="Yes"

Enjoy the nostalgia, as yes indeed where are the amazing times of the blue screened function keys driven interface of WP 4.2 and WP 5 :-)

(5) Comments ·
14 December 2009 - 16:04

Powerpoint Handouts

Handouts in PowerPoint can be printed through the print dialog box and settings - you have a certain control over their formatting through the handouts master.

If you're looking out for more flexibility to print out handouts, your best first step probably is creating handouts in Word.
To do so all you need is the SendTo option in the File Menu for pre-Powerpoint 2007 users or the Publish option from Powerpoint 2007 onwards. The wizard actually offers a series of options as how to layout your pages too.
You'll find a series of screenshots on these options at about.com.

And If you want even more control then have a look at the add-on available from skp.mvps.org.
The site offers a handout wizard allowing you to create your own customized layouts and more.

But coming back on the PowerPoint - Word wizard, it actually produces rather small thumbnails of the slide in the final Word document.
I've found a macro on answers.google.com to resize the graphics and tweaked it a bit as to make it work on the whole document for any number of slides.
Just copy the code into a module behind the document or into the 'Normal' project or template of your current software version.

custom handouts [Read more on Powerpoint Handouts...]
09 December 2009 - 16:12

Propagation of Custom Animation in Powerpoint

Once you have created a custom animation in PowerPoint, you might want to apply the same animation on the other slides. But... there is actually no way to propagate a custom animation in PowerPoint. No despair however, you can avoid having to redo the animation on each of your slides by applying your animation to a placeholder on the master.

Here's the procedure in a nutshell:

  • Open the Master View and select the body text placeholder (or placeholder of your choice depending on the Powerpoint version)
  • Apply the Custom Animation your choice, e.g. making text fly in and ensuring each of the bulleted topics flies in 'after previous' to then 'dim out' when going to the next one.
  • Close the Master View and save.
  • Remove all Custom Animations applied on individual slides now having become redundant.
  • Now play the slide show and check if all slides behave as wanted - if not try to 're-apply' the chosen layout to the slide or choose the correct layout.
propagate animations in PWP

Ps1 : You cannot delete animations applied by the Master slide through the custom animation features on a slide.
If you have PowerPoint 2002 or later you can take benefit of the multiple master feature to scope the animations throughout the slides and work with different masters to apply different or no custom animation asper the need.
And from Powerpoint 2007 onwards, there are much more placeholders available on the masters, so that gives margin for even more flexible solutions by choosing animation for specific placeholders.

Ps 2 For more information on this topic : http://www.jegsworks.com/Lessons/presentations/advanced/step-animatedata.htm

(0) Comments ·
06 December 2009 - 15:12

On windows explorer tooltips and thumbnails

It's amazing how many different settings can be encountered on computers ... and how confusing or complex it can all turn out for the 'normal' end-user.

Like recently during a PowerPoint course in a course room with identical computers. When browsing images to insert into the slides, some participants see the thumbnails of the images, as well as the pixel dimensions, others see thumbnails without the pixel dimensions, and still others don't seem to be able to activate the thumbnails altogether.

To start with the last one: if you don't see the thumbnails for images when you should, it's most likely linked to a setting in the folder options Windows Explorer - in the View Options, you have to make sure the option 'Always show icons, never thumbnails' is un-checked.
Remark that the word 'Thumbnails is not used anymore in Vista, but Large and Small Miniatures should then just do what they say.
If ever this is not the cause of not seeing thumbnails in your folders, you could try-out the procedure as described by the Microsoft Knowledgebase, as indeed there are issues with thumbnails: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/928572

The specific information (size, pixel dimensions, file type, etc) appearing in the tooltips are actually dependant on some registry settings; it seems a bit of a mystery how some of the settings sometimes get updated and sometimes not, probably to installation of certain software, but if you want to master it yourself you'll find the keys in following articles: http://www.ghacks.net/2008/02/10/customize-windows-explorer-tooltips/.

Happy tooltipping !

(0) Comments ·
05 December 2009 - 03:45

What is a browser?

I've always considered asking questions as a fundamental key in any teaching work.
Good questions have tremendous potential in induce insight.

And the most basic questions may sometimes be very well the most powerful triggers to insight.
That's what some people from Google have proven by going out and asking this very simple question to the general public on the street :

what is a browser?

The experiment was done in New York, but taken over in some other cities. They all proved to be very enlightening as to how few people really can answer this question properly.
An a eye-opener for the webdeveloper indeed, as in the light of this experiment, the daily concerns of browser compatibility, the decision making process towards CSS, the strive for webstandards, and so on seem suddenly to become so ... well 'futile'...
And even if all those of us, in our efforts to take our work to high standards, know these issues aren't futile at all, it's always good to practice empathy and stay in tune with the 'end user' - isn't ? :-)

browsers anno 2009

But see for yourself if you haven't done so:

Sitepoint elaborates on this experiment through one of it's Ezines.
Google itself was so struck by the results that it decided to launch a website explaining the answer and especially what's the difference between a browser and a search engine. The site has some interesting links to a browser historical line and other browser stuff.

(0) Comments ·
02 December 2009 - 09:04

Problems with printing backgrounds in Powerpoint

printing in PWP

When printing slides in PowerPoint, you might have encountered problems with the backgrounds - mostly being too dark or so and making text unreadable.
You might have realised also there's not such an option (anymore ?) in PowerPoint as 'omitting the background graphics' from printing.

The first way out in this situation is always to try print in 'grey tones' (this should inverse difficult to read text also) - the option is available from the print dialog box, in the 'print what section'.
If still in problem try it again with the 'pure black and white' option - available at the same place in the print dialog box.

You could of course also create a special master for printing purposes only, where you omit the background and/or choose a different colour scheme. You would then have to save the presentation twice, once for the screen (eg presentation.pptx) and for printing (eg presentation_prn.pptx) or if you use PWP 2003 +, create custom shows within your presentation, one for printing and one for doing the presentation as such. As from PWP 2003 onwards, there's the possibility to use multiple masters in the same presentation.

(1) Comments ·
01 December 2009 - 05:25

Copy an Outlook folder structure

To copy an Outlook folder structure, e.g. for back-up and filing purposes, do the following:

  1. Export the folder with subfolders and content to an pst file (file > import/export to pst file)
  2. Load the file (File open/ outlook data file)
  3. Archive the folder (right click - Auto archive) by setting the condition to 'items older than today, or one day' and by ticking the remove permanently box
  4. compact the pst file to reduce it's size to normal proportions again

For more details see: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA011166031033.aspx.

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