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August 24, 2010

Reading today's tips can both save you time and money.  I think you will really appreciate how easy it is to schedule meetings with the first tip.  The second tip can save you a minimum of $40/year and potentially hundreds of dollars not to mention the lost time and aggravation of your computer not working properly.



An Easy Way To Schedule Meetings

 It seems that when you have more than two people, scheduling a meeting is like “pulling teeth”.  It seems nearly impossible to obtain a consensus to the new meeting time.  Phone calls and emails don’t help.  What is really needed is a schedule that everyone can view at the same time and give their feedback.

WhenIsGood ( ) is a free online service that permits the meeting originator set up a block of time that is convenient to him.  You can enter multiple timeslots for the meeting. The web site permits everybody’s feedback.  Since everyone is looking at the same chart and entering their availability it is possible to get to a point where everyone agrees on a meeting time.  The next time you have to book a meeting with multiple people give it a try.  I think you will be glad that you did!

Tired of Paying Protection Money?

I can not begin to tell you how important it is to have a current, up to date anti-virus.  You would think that would be obvious by this time, but a large part of my business has been dedicated to removing viruses.  This is going to cost me, but I am going to let you in on a little secret--you do not have to purchase an anti-virus program to get a good one. Unlike years in the past where the "free" anti-virus programs were crippled versions of their paid brethren today's "free" anti-virus really do a good job.

When Microsoft announced that it was going to provide a free anti-virus, both Symantec and McAfee laughed saying that Microsoft would never do as good a job as they did.  Well, they are not laughing now.  The Microsoft product, which can be found at does an excellent job.  In fact, the Microsoft product is now the fourth-most deployed antivirus software on the market--ahead of both Norton & McAfee.

The other free anti-virus tools are Avast!, Avira AntiVir Personal, and AVG Anti-Virus, with the Avast! product being my personal favorite.  According to one of the computer magazines I read, the free anti-virus offerings command a healthy 42% of the market share.  There is no longer any excuse for you to use your computer without virus protection.  Just remember to "uninstall" your old anti-virus before installing the new one as you can not have two anti-virus programs running on the same machine without disastrous results.

Avira AntiVir Personal
AVG Anti-Virus 


August 17, 2010


This week's tips are based on some of the issues I have seen when working with my clients.  Two of these tips are based on Microsoft Word.  Don't worry, next week I will address some things that are not Microsoft specific.  I hope that you find this week's tips useful.


Close a Word 2007 Document Without Closing The Program


There a number of frustrating features in Word, but one that just drives a lot of my clients crazy is the fact that if you click on the “x” when only one document is open, the entire program will close.  This means that now you have to re-launch the program to type another document.  This is not only frustrating but it is time consuming as well.  For those of you with Word 2007, the simplest way to correct this issue is to just memorize a keyboard shortcut. Both Ctrl-W and Ctrl-F4 will close the current document without closing Word itself. No fuss, no muss.


Today's Video--Creating Envelopes and Labels in Word


Word 2003 & Older Versions


        Word 2007 & 2010


Convert Scanned Documents to Editable Text


 Have you ever received a scanned document or a pdf and wanted to edit it?  You always could if you purchased software such as Ominipage that costs over $100.  Granted, the accuracy was not always that high and the document had to be corrected but at least you didn't have to type the whole thing.  Now there is a free service on the web that will let you do the same thing online.  The website, converts scanned paper documents, faxes, photographs, or digital camera captured images into editable and searchable electronic documents including Adobe PDF, Microsoft ord, Microsoft Excel, RTF, HTML, and TXT. The converted documents look exactly like the original, with preserved tables, columns, bullets, and graphics, and the documents can be processed in 28 languages.  The first page of the web site says you are limited to 1 megabyte, but when I registered it increased the limit to 30 megabytes.  What it didn't say is that after a few "free" uses there is a very moderate cost to OCR a document larger than 1 megabyte.  This should not be an issue for most of you.



August 10, 2010


Welcome back to the Five Minute Tips.  A number of you have commented that you thought my tips were "too simple", so today's tips in using Excel are a bit more advanced.  Some would put them in the intermediate to advanced intermediate category.  But don't worry, even if you are beginner it doesn't take very much to learn the technique in the video to make your work standout.  As to the first tip, well, it can save a lot of tears, frustration, and rekeying of data when things go wrong.


Where did my numbers go?

I received a panicked call the other day.  It seems that one of my clients Excel spreadsheet had gone crazy.  Instead of showing  the answers in the various cells, the worksheet was showing only formulas.  My client was the victim of an accidental key stroke.  If this ever happens to you, you can get the numbers back by simply holding down the ctrl key and depressing the ` (grave) key.


Stripes of a Different Color

Today's video will really make your work standout. Instead of a boring print-out of list, you can alternate colors on different rows.  It will make long lists much more readable, and make you look like someone who really knows a lot about Excel. 


Since the instructions are slightly different depending on which version of Excel you are using, you will find two videos below. 


      Conditional Formatting In Excel 2003 and below


      Conditional Formatting In Excel 2007 and above




August 3, 2010


We’re baaack!  After a long absence, the Five Minute Tips are resuming—but with a difference.  Instead of four separate articles about various web sites and things you could do with your computer  there will be one short article and occasionally a short video.  We know that you are busy and think this will better fit into most people’s busy schedule.


This past year has been a busy time for software vendors.  Many announced new product, including Corel, Adobe, and Microsoft.  Please do not rush to upgrade to them.  The Corel product, PaintShop Pro X3 is receiving a large number of negative reports.  I believe that they will be releasing a “service pack” in the near future to address these issues.


As to Adobe, the new Photoshop CS5 has been released.  The one intriguing new feature that I see is the ease of removing objects.  It looks interesting, but I would let others be the first to install it.


The Microsoft product, Office 2010, started shipping the end of April to large volume customers.  It shipped mid-June for the rest of us.  Microsoft has been touting many new features, most of which to me are just window dressing.  As to feature improvements, as far as I am concerned the most improvement has occurred in Outlook.  The search function has really been improved.  For my needs, the remainder of the suite has very little in the way of improvement over the Office 2007 version.


On the hardware front, if you can wait until the third quarter to purchase a new machine you will be better off.  There is a new USB specification, USB 3.0.   It is supposed to be 10 times faster than USB 3.0.  In the demonstrations I saw at CES, a file that took 30 seconds to copy took approximately 3 seconds with the USB 3.0 connection.  Although the specifications have been released already, I have not seen any computer vendors including this connection.  If you “roll your own” computer, then both Asus and Gigabyte are offering motherboards with this feature.  It is rumored that this feature will begin shipping in the third quarter in time for Christmas sales for those individuals who purchase a computer “off the shelf”.  For those of you with “newer” computers, there is a good chance that this feature can be added to your computer with the installation of a circuit board that will probably be in the $30-$40 range.


The Social Engineers Are At It Again--A Word of Warning


When I first wrote this newsletter I wanted to keep it short with only a couple of issues per newsletter.  Unfortunately, in this issue that can not be the case.  If you are a Firefox user, and if you are not I recommend that you try it, it has just come to my attention that Firefox users are being presented with a page that looks legitimate telling them to update their Adobe Flash Player program.  In this case, it is bogus and installs malware.  If you would like to learn more, please see the following article:


Do you care what your clients think of you?


How many times have you wanted to “poll” your clients or customers to see what they are thinking about your products or services?  There are several web based survey companies around, but one of the easiest to use is SurveyGizmo.  They offer many features, and if you are surveying less than 250 clients it is even free.  You can find it at and see if it fits your needs.


Today’s Video


Have you ever wanted to sort your Outlook two ways at the same time.  For example, perhaps you wanted to sort your email alphabetically and then by subject.  This short video, which runs around four minutes will teach you how to do exactly that. 

Play the video


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