Saturday, 27 June 2009

The 18th Carnival of Computer Help and Advice

Welcome to the eighteenth monthly Carnival of Computer Help and Advice. Another digest of the best blog articles published recently that help you get the most out of your PCs.

We start this month with regular contributor, Andrew Edgington, who submitted his article Adobe Photoshop Elements Tools - Restoring Old Photos Tips from Master Adobe Elements.

for those who struggle to keep on top of all their computer files, help is at hand. As part of her 7-day guide to declutter your life, Suzanne at Without Dash presents Day 6 - the computer.

Next, a couple of OS specific posts. Jules submitted a tutorial explaining How to Fix Sound Recording Problems in Vista on Collection of Web Freebies author, Nesher, lifts the lid on a largely unknown aspect of XP in the article How to run Windows XP as SYSTEM User?

Justin Acton of provides a useful tutorial that demonstrates how to Add/Remove Items On SendTo Menu.

To offer a century of tips in one blog post is no mean feat; however, our next two contributors have managed it with some aplomb. Sarah Scrafford lists 100 Firefox Add-Ons to Create a Truly Brilliant Browser at Select Courses, and security-minded Alvina Lopez of the e-Justice Blog offers 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Locking Down Your PC.

I will let Ivan, our next contributor, explain his own post:

"Let’s assume you’re at work or at school and you’re on the computer. There’s an enormous chance that you have no administrative privileges and there’s absolutely nothing you can install onto the computer. Let us also assume that you want to use Mozilla Firefox instead of IE. That’s an easy one, ’cause we’ve all heard of Firefox Portable. Finally you download Firefox and you’re happy how you fooled Windows. So you’re browsing and you go to youtube. And what happens? You need to install the Flash Player. Damn… What now…"

Find the answer in Ivan's post Install Flash Player without having administrative privileges at PC Hacks.

If you have posted an article offering computer advice that you want to submit to the carnival then use the form over at our Blog Carnival page to submit it for consideration. If you would like to host a future carnival then please leave a comment on this post or on the carnival page. If you don't wish to have the responsibility for selecting articles or writing the carnival post, don't worry I can do that for you.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Printing from Excel - Part 2

In the last post I showed how to format an Excel sheet so that it fitted to the page and added page numbers. The end result as displayed in Print Preview is as shown here.

As we can see there are no gridlines on the print. We can either remedy this by selecting border types on the table or, more easily, we can set a print option to show simple gridlines. To do this go to Print Preview, click the 'Setup...' button and select the 'Sheet' tab. Here, I select the Print Gridlines option, as shown.

After I click 'OK', the Print Preview looks like this. I have zoomed in on the preview so that you can see the gridlines more clearly.

The above is a preview of page 2, where we can see that there are no column headers as there are on page 1. We can tell Excel to print the column headers on each page to make the print of the table more user-friendly. To do this I need to close the Print Preview, and select 'Page Setup' from the 'File' menu, which enables some extra options. On the 'Sheet' tab I click the circled button.

This opens the following option box. I now click the row that I want to repeat. In this case it is row 1, so I click the appropriate button as circled in red, and close the option box by clicking the button circled in green. This will enter the appropriate code into the 'Rows to repeat at top' option. After, I click 'OK' I have a well formatted spreadsheet ready to be printed.

As you can see there are a number of other options that I have not explored here. If you have a document that prints on many pages you may want to click the 'Margins' button and adjust the size of the print area by clicking and dragging the various dotted lines, but be careful to leave enough of a margin around the table so that the print is not ruined - at least a centimetre (or about half an inch) should be enough. If you have a particularly wide document you may not be able to fit it onto one page width, in which case you can also set the print to repeat columns in much the same way as I did for rows. Printing Excel spreadsheets may be a fiddly business, but with a little effort you can achieve some very good results.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Printing from Excel - Part 1

Printing from Microsoft Excel is markedly different to printing from Word. Whereas in Word we can usually just tell it to print without worrying that much about formatting the page, in Excel we will usually have to specifically tell it how we want to print our speadsheets, and this can sometimes be a little fiddly. Because there is quite a lot of fiddling that can be done I have split these instructions over two posts.

Pictured above is an example of a spreadsheet - in this case a dataset of U.S. population information. Exciting, I know. When I press the Print Preview button [pictured right] I see the following:

As we can see, not all the columns are shown on the first page. If I go down to page 6 we can see the missing column.

To remedy this situation I click the 'Setup..' button in the Print Preview. This opens up the following option box.

I could change the orientation to 'Landscape' as this would enable the missing column ; however, for the purposes of this tutorial I will keep it set to 'Portrait'. Instead, I reduce the scaling until the final column appears on the first page. In this case I set it to 80% of normal size.

I could also have achieved the same result by selecting all the data and reducing the font size, the column width and row height; although I find adjusting the scaling to be easier. The Print Preview now looks like this:

As yet there are no page numbers shown. In order to have page numbers displayed I click 'Setup..' again and open the 'Header/Footer' tab. Here I can select whether I want the page numbers to be shown at the top or the bottom of the page by choosing an option from the appropriate drop-down list, two of which are shown below.

As you can see from the drop-down lists, there are other options available for what will be displayed in the header or footer, including file name and date. I now have a serviceable format for my document that I can print out. At the same time I have reduced the number of pages from ten to four. There are a number of other print formatting options available that I will explore in the next post.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Finding lost documents

We have all done it, saved a document and then immediately forgotten where we saved it and what we called it. Fear not, help is at hand. Some applications will keep a short list of recently opened documents, which can usually be found in the 'File' menu. This should at least identify the name of the file, which you can search for. To save time, rather than search for this file, it may be easier to save it again in a more memorable location.

Much of the time, we created the lost file a while ago, and because we have created other files since then, the lost file is not mentioned in the list of recent documents. So, we have to use the Windows search tool.

Please note that the following instructions do not apply to Vista. For a walk through of the new search tool that Microsoft implemented on Vista, see this article at PC Magazine.

To open the search tool, open the Start menu and click on Search, or simply press F3 when you don't have any windows open. If you are using XP, you may be greeted with a choice of what you want to search for. Click on 'All Files and Folders', if not you will be taken straight to this screen.

Remember: change the 'Look in' field to 'Local Hard Drives', if it is set to something else. If you use networked drives, you will also have to search these as well, by selecting them from the list and repeating the search.

If you can remember some of the text from the documents, or some keywords that are unlikely to be in many other documents on your hard-drive, you can use the 'Containing Text' field. Simply type a keyword or phrase into it and click 'Search Now'.

If you cannot remember any of the content of the document you will have to cast the net wider. You can search for files of a certain type, for example, if you type *.doc into the 'Search for files or folders named' field and click 'Search Now', Windows will find every Word document on your computer [Note: if you are using Word 2007 the default file extension is now 'docx', so you would search for *.docx]. So, to search for Excel files use *.xls for Adobe Acrobat files use *.pdf and so on.

Sometimes, searching on file type will produce a long list of files, to narrow your search, you can select a date range. To do this click on 'Search Options' and tick 'Date'. You will be presented with a series of choices, the most important of which is the first where you can select whether you want to search for files that were modified, created or accessed within the time period you choose. Select suitable options depending on what you can remember.

If you use Microsoft Outlook (not Outlook Express) it may be worth looking in the 'Journal'; this contains a log of various tasks you have carried out on your PC such as creating new files. If it is not switched on, you may wish to do so if you are prone to losing files or wish to keep tabs on your PC usage.

If you wish to have a file search tool with more features you could try the freeware program Fileseek from Binary Fortress Software.