Using the Google Calculator

google calculator 01This will be old news to some of you, and a complete revelation to others: You can use Google for a whole lot more than just finding out the nature of that nasty looking growth coming out of Uncle Henry's neck, or how many worms you'll find when you put in your new swimming pool. You can use it to add! And while that by itself is certainly worth the price of admission, the Google Calculator will perform all sorts of common (and not so common) stuff that's even cooler than adding! Just ask it a question....

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Internet Scams - Phishing Scams - Identity Theft

phishing 01No, it isn't a misspelling, or a way to entertain yourself by playing a game on your computer. It isn't a game at all, millions of people succumb to these well thought out and cleverly devised scams every year:
  • You receive an e-mail from your bank, asking you to confirm a charge from a hotel that you have never been to.
  • A credit card company sends you an e-mail telling you that you need to log in to your account within the next 24 hours to confirm your account details, or your account will be suspended.
  • You get an e-mail from Amazon explaining that during their last account update they could not verify all of your account information, and that you need to log in to your account to verify that information.
  • PayPal sends an e-mail telling you that they have reason to believe that your account has been hijacked by a third party, and that you need to log in to your account to verify your identity.

In all of these cases there are helpful links embedded in the e-mail, so that you can simply click here to quickly address the issue that is described.

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Microsoft Excel / Word How-to: Mail Merge Setup

mail mergeSo you have a document that you need to send to more than a couple of people. Maybe hundreds, or even thousand of people. Or you want to print the labels for your holiday greeting cards, so that you don't have to put pen to paper to get all of the addresses on the envelopes. Getting married? When we did, we put the names and addresses of all of the invited guests into an Excel spreadsheet, along with phone numbers, the RSVP, dinner dish selection, and after the wedding the gift received. Invitations and thank you cards went out using the same mail merge, from Excel to the label sheets using Word for the layout. It may sound complicated, but it really is a great time saver once you've figured out how to set it up. It takes a few steps to walk through the wizard, and the first time you do it you'll need to pay attention, but it really is easy!

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Microsoft Excel How-to: End Of Month (EOMONTH) Function

excel logoA week ago or so E happens to mention a project that she has taken on at work. It was fairly complex, and for one part of it she needed to be able to dynamically update a row with the date for the end of the month, for the next 12 months. She wanted to be able to enter in a starting date, then have the adjacent 12 cells fill in automatically with the last day of the month for the next 12 months. I knew this could be done with a fairly complex formula, and certainly with some VBA code. But it seemed to me I had run across an end of month function previously in Excel, and with just a little bit of investigation I found it. Strangely enough, it's called EOMONTH, and here's how you can find it and use it.

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Microsoft gets Web 2.0 - packing a wallop

It looks like Microsoft doesn't wants to be left out of the social computing game. From the Wallop website:

Microsoft Spins Out A Wallop
Microsoft IP Ventures program teams up with Silicon Valley entrepreneur to create a new social networking company

...The company aims to solve the problems plaguing current social networks and introduce an entirely new way for consumers to express their individuality online...

Ah, the fresh scent of marketing double-talk, I love it. Interestingly, the entire site (what there is of it) is Macromedia (Adobe) Flash. Can't wait to see what this is all about.

Found courtesy Blake Handler's The Road to Know Where

Microsoft Producer for Powerpoint 2003 plug-in review

powerpoint logo[November, 2008] It doesn't appear that Microsoft is actively supporting this product anymore (probably just as well). However, you can still get it if you want (follow the link at the bottom of the page), so I left the review in place.
Editor's Note:
I had planned on walking you through a complete product evaluation - installation, importing, features, and publishing. I realized a little way into this that doing so would make me guilty of the same infraction as Microsoft in their presentation of this product. Therefore, it seemed prudent under these circumstances to give you the summary first.

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Temporary Internet Files - Deleting from Internet Explorer

windows logoIn as much as website developers spend an exorbitant amount of time complaining about them, modern day web browsers are actually remarkable pieces of software. It wasn't that terribly long ago that the entire concept of a software program that was capable of interacting with a wide variety of computers and operating systems was completely revolutionary, the 'holy grail' of software development. Granted, this magic takes more than just a browser to achieve, but I have to admit there are times when I am just amazed that it actually works. This could just be the programmer in me, because I know what it takes to actually get things to work (I think sometimes that programmers are the people that are the most surprised when software programs actually work).

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Microsoft Windows - Defragmenting Your Hard Drive

windows logoSo my daughter mentions the other day that her computer "isn't working". Over the years I've learned that this very general, benign description is in reality a secret code for a wide variety of computer ailments, ranging anywhere from the minor:

- some program refuses to do something that she wants it to do, which by the way has absolutely nothing to do with the actual capabilities of that program

to the major:

- there is currently smoke, sparks, and/or flames coming out of said computer

On this particular occasion it meant that the computer, along with half of the other electrical appliances in the room, were completely dead. With some minor investigation I found that a GFCI outlet had tripped, as her desk is in the basement and is protected by these oh-so-sensitive electrical devices. With some slight nervousness I reset the device (as the aforementioned flaming computer could have been the reason it had tripped in the first place), and waited to see what would happen. To my great relief and surprise the computer booted right up, and even managed to recover a Word document that must have been open when the thing had unexpectedly been shut down by the tripping circuit breaker. Feeling lucky, I thought it might be good time to perform a little routine maintenance on the machine, part of which is defragmenting the hard drive.

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Microsoft Excel How-to: Define and Name Ranges

excel logoOnce you start getting into some of the more advanced functions in Excel you're going to want to start defining and naming ranges. Doing so makes your functions much easier to write, and much easier for someone else to understand. All that you're doing when you define or name a range in Excel is to select a cell, or a series of cells, and assign a meaningful name to those cells.

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Microsoft Word How-to: Print Filename on Every Page Using Autotext

word logoIn a recent article we looked at how to create your own custom template to use in Microsoft Word. One of the things I find very handy is to print the name of the file in the footer of my Word documents. How many times have you looked at a letter, fax, or any kind of printed document and found yourself thinking "I wish I could remember what I called this file, it sure would make it easier to find". You can set up Word to automatically print that information in the footer of every document you save, and it's easy!

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