Friday, April 30, 2010

PDF Maker Stalls / PDF Maker Broke Suddenly

Microsoft Office Add-in, PDF Maker, suddenly stopped functioning. Reinstalling Adobe did not fix the problem, but I solved it with this quick work-around:
When the "save as" dialog box pops up, select "Quick and Simple PDF," instead of the default "Fully Functional PDF."

That made it work.  After doing that once,  the PDF Maker add-in started to work again - even with the "Fully Functional PDF" option.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Firefox Tip: Use Firefox instead of Windows Explorer to browse folders on your computer

Drag a folder from your PC to Firefox - either to a new tab or an open tab:  It's quicker than Explorer and easier on the eyes.

Firefox displays the folders, files - and all the details automatically.  It's faster than Explorer, and saves you sometimes as much as several clicks.

You can browse up the hierarchy to a higher level folder; you can also use the back and forward buttons on the browser; you can drill down by clicking on subfolders. Try it: you'll like it!  It's quick and easy. (Works in Mac's Firefox, too.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Screen orientation suddenly changed!

If your screen's orientation suddenly shows everything upside down or sideways - ie., the screen orientation changed - and you did not do it on purpose:

Ctl + Alt plus arrow keys can be used to change your screen's orientation in Windows XP.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Beware IDE / SATA Adapters!

Installed MacDrive 8 on my PC running XP. Then I attached a parallel (IDE) drive (a mirror image of an old MacBook drive) to my PC. MacDrive worked great. I saw all my files.

Then I got distracted doing other things.

An hour or so later, external drive suddenly started making clicking noises. Sure enough - external drive was fried. At first, I started to suspect MacDrive 8 -- but then realized it was the hardware. I was using an IDE/SATA adapter (Ultra, Sabrent, and others make these flexible, light-weight all-in-one adapters.)

They never seem to last very long, but have always been handy to have around. Never again! Am now sure it fried my drive -- and now have heard first-hand stories from other techies who have had the same hair-raising, nasty surprise. You attach a perfectly good drive to one of these -- and if you're unlucky -- it fries the drive. (I have used these hundreds of times without killing a drive -- but this is not a good enough average. This should NEVER happen.)

I will never again trust these adapters. Having a different enclosure for each type of drive may seem like an inelegant solution, but it's better than risking losing data. It's too bad: these handy devices support 2.5" and 5.25" IDE and Serial ATA drives. You need 4 different enclosures to replace just one easy-to-carry adapter.

I was lucky. The fried hard drive was just an additional backup, so I didn't need the data. Not everyone is that lucky. Just wanted to put out the word that these 4-in-1 portable adapters can be very dangerous. Use at your own risk. (Note: I also suspect the quality control used to be better some years ago. I just checked: the Ultra and Sabrent adapters I had were made in China.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Microsoft Word 2007

Like many other users, I quickly learned to love this upgrade of Microsoft Word -- as well as the other Microsoft Office 2007 products. However, I find one feature of Word 2007 a bit irritating: Unlike Word 2003, each document does not by default show up with its own "open", "close" and "minimize" buttons. Excel works the same way it used to - but if you have only one document open in Word, the only way to close it appears to be, at first blush, to close Word.

However, I have found the cure to this irritation: Simply use the shortcut CTL + W. It will close the document, but still leave Word open. Makes me very happy....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Under Windows XP: How to Create a Shortcut to Firefox's Cookies and other Profile Settings Files

An alternative method to using "Map Drive" - found under Tools in the Menu Bar in Windows Explorer:

1. In Windows XP, first navigate to the following folder using Explorer:
(Make sure Hidden Files and Folders are enabled.)
Documents and Settings/YOUR USER/ApplicationData\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\SOMEcomplexALPHASnums.default

2. (Now make sure your address bar is viewable.
If it is not:
Menu Bar -->View --> Toolbars --> Address Bar)

3. Copy the address to your clipboard

4. Open DOS window (Start --> Run. Then type "cmd" without the quotes. Hit OK)

5. At the C: prompt, type:
subst z: "
(- use any alpha not assigned to a drive  instead of z
(Z:) will be the new virtual drive)

6. Then, without adding a space, right-click your mouse, and paste the address from your clipboard.
(NOTE: CTL+V shortcut does not work under DOS, but right-click does.)
Type the closing quote at the end of the string.
Your command should look something like:
subst z: "C:\Documents and Settings\YOUR USER NAME\ApplicationData\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ SOME-COMPLEX-ALPHAS-NUMS.default”

7. Hit the Enter Key.
If you did this correctly, you should get no error message.

8. Close the DOS Window.

9. Open "My Computer".
Your mapped drive should appear now as (Z:) - with a long name derived from its address.

10. You can now give it a more memorable name - like "Firefox Cookies" or "Firefox Profile".

... More Tips and Tricks in Windows ...

Monday, May 11, 2009

How to Change Your IP Address

This will not work for all ISPs. However, it does work for many. It will not work if you have a static IP address assigned by your ISP.

Assuming you are using a router:
Before doing any of these steps, please do the following:
Go to whatismyip and copy down your IP address and save the document.

Before making each change below, save the original settings somewhere -- just in case.
You may also be successful skipping steps 1 and 2 - that is, not bothering to change your gateway address first.  If you wish to try that, begin from step 3 (Clone MAC Address.)

Now you are ready to begin:
1. Login to your router and change your gateway's address.
Example: change to
2. Release and renew your IP address. You may need to restart your modem, router and computer -- but, not necessarily. You may just need to login to your router again.
3. Change your MAC address by enabling MAC address cloning and typing in a new MAC address. 
On a Linksys WRT54G:
Setup -> MAC Address Clone -> Enable

You only need to change one or two of the last digits of the MAC Address. Click on "Clone your PC's MAC."  Save your settings.
4. After you receive the message the settings were changed successfully, you will lose internet connection. Power cycle your modem, router and computer.
5. You should again be connected to the internet now. Go to whatismyip and copy down your IP address: It should be different from the original IP Address you had before you started this exercise.

If you completed step 5 successfully, congratulations!