Home Office: Even More Top Tips for Better ComputingCheck out keyboard tricks and Word tweaks; fry ants with a magnifying glass.
"They liked the tips, Bass--do more." Whaddya know, a compliment, I thought as I listened to my editor barking in his best managerial style. But the guy's right on target. The last two tips newsletters were great fun to write, and plenty of you e-mailed to say some of the tips had become permanent residents in your toolboxes. So dig in, here are some more Top Tips.
Denmark? Ha, It's Germany
First, though, I have to clear up a little misunderstanding. A few weeks ago I told you about a way to play Pong using the lights in an office building. I said that the site's slow to load because it originates in Denmark (I believed this because of the "de" in the site's URL). Yup, you're right, it's from Germany--and 40 of you nailed me. For my edification and embarrassment, many of you suggested I try Country Codes--a utility I wrote about recently, but didn't use.
Some of your e-mails commented on my Denmark screw-up by exclaiming you were LOL or actually ROTFLMAO. That's a good thing because it lets me mention Jim Martin's "LOL :)--A Guide to Internet Lingo and Emoticons," which teaches you useful phrases such as AFAIK, IMHO, and FWIW. (Nope, sorry, you have to look them up yourself.)
On to the Tips
I don't know why, but many of you have a morbid curiosity about bugs and other things that cause system disasters.
Squash Those Bugs: One of our most popular columns is Stuart Johnston's "Bugs and Fixes." Check out "Bugs and Fixes: Top Tips for Busting Bugs."
Download Safely: If it's disaster you want to avoid, you'll want to read Tom Mainelli's "Disasterware?" story. In it, Tom details the problems everyone faces when downloading freeware, shareware, and occasionally spyware. If nothing else, pop over to the sidebar that gives you nine rules for safe downloading.
Dig This: Have you ever held a magnifying glass over an ant to see what happens? If you haven't, here's your chance (with thanks to David J).
Fav Word and Excel Tips
Bug tips are one thing, but it's word processing tips that really get me going.
Avoid Weird Formatting: I have one Word tip I use constantly to handle unruly cuts and pastes from Web pages and documents with weird formatting. To find out what it is, read "Word Processing Tips: Isn't That Special? Paste Without Formatting."
If you're using Word XP (or 2002), it's sometimes just as easy to pop open the Formatting Task Pane, highlight the text, and apply Clear Formatting. Open the Task Pane by selecting Format, Styles and Formatting.
Wrangle Tables: Reader Michael A. Lanzarotta explains that he often grabs sports schedules and stats from the Web. Instead of using Word for pasting tables of information, Mike uses Excel. After highlighting and copying the info on the Web page, he goes into Excel and uses Edit, Paste Special, then selects HTML Format. The data goes into the cells arranged like a table.
My Favorite Word Tip: As I'm tooling along, writing this column, I often find that I've typed a word or sentence that doesn't quite work. I'm a keyboard guy, remember? So deleting the last word--or even words--I typed is a quick Control-Backspace away.
All Help, All the Time
It's two in the morning and you need help. Here's a tip--try the Web.
Best Help Sites: Harry McCracken's "How to Help Thyself" has examples of the top spots--such as Annoyances.org and The PC Guide. Jump right to "Need an Expert? Check Here."
Step-by-Step Archive: Need even more help? Try trolling through a list of all Contributing Editor Stan Miastkowski's monthly Step-by-Step columns.
Quirky Windows Help: For trillions of tips, tricks, and help in all versions of Windows, take a look at [insert flashing neon lights here, please] Axcel216's Max Speed Free Software Essentials: Upgrades, Patches, Bug Fixes, Drivers + Tools. Seriously, it's a hot site and one you oughta visit.
Dig This: There are error messages, and then there are error messages. This is one you don't ever want to see.
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