Archive for April, 2010

Microsoft Office & Help

April 29, 2010

OK so for the most part I *love* Office 2007. I find it to be so much more user friendly now that I’ve gotten over the initial hump that was the new interface. But one of the things I did not (and do not) like is the Help button. I mean really, why make it this tiny tiny little question mark button in the upper right of the program?

That said, one of the things that I think Microsoft (for once) did a good job of was the flash tool they created for users of the previous versions. It brought up the old 2003 menu & toolbars, you clicked on the command you were looking for, and then it would show you the new Ribbon and where that command was. They just keep making that tool better! First is was only available on their website, then they created a down loadable version and now…wait for it…. an integrated version!

This is where we go back to the Help button. Thanks to the upcoming release of Office 2010, Microsoft has created an “add in” for the Ribbon that will add a new tab for Help. It will let you search help, bring up the flash tool with the old 2003 interface, and a lot more. So much better than that tiny button. It works with Office 2007 (Word, PowerPoint and Excel).

You can find it here.

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Need Fonts?

April 26, 2010

So today I was reminded of a site that I like a lot but haven’t really needed lately. MyFonts.com is a great place to buy fonts, look at fonts or even find out what a font is (they have a cool search feature). They recently released a list of their top 10 fonts of 2009, based on sales (unfortunately I couldn’t find that list or I would link to it).

Still it’s a great place to find some really cool fonts! BE WARNED! It can be overwhelming. There are, after all, thousands of fonts out in the world. And my one recommendation, when buying fonts, is to always try to get the OpenType version is possible.

Facebook and Microsoft Office

April 22, 2010

With the upcoming release of Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft is putting a lot of time and energy into Office Live; their online version of Office. I’ve briefly played with if about a year ago but haven’t really touched it since. In my day to day life I’ve used Google Docs more for the type of collaboration that I’ve been doing. That doesn’t mean it’s better, just that it’s what works for my situation.

That said, Microsoft is turning up the heat (so to speak) with a new collaboration with Facebook, one of the most popular Social Networking tools out there. They recently announced the beta version of Docs, which allows you to create Word documents, Excel Spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentations AND share them in Facebook.

This gives you the ability to work with others on documents, presentations, and spreadsheets without leaving Facebook. I took a quick look at it and it seemed pretty slick. The only thing that kept me from diving in, and it may be a HUGE issue to some folks, was that in order to connect Docs with Facebook I had to let the application pull my Facebook information. That means my Name, Profile Picture,  list of Friends and other public information.

I haven’t decided if I want Microsoft to have this information. My Name i’m fine with but my friends? That I’m not so sure about.  So I did what I always recommend to everyone (but seldom do myself), I read the Terms of Service. A couple of things stand out:

  1. The beta can only be used for personal non-commercial service
  2. Use the service in any way that harms Microsoft or its advertisers, affiliates, resellers, distributors and/or vendors or any customer of ours or customer of our advertisers, affiliates, resellers, distributors or vendors (what exactly would constitute “harm”?)
  3. They can cancel your account or the service at anytime without notice. This isn’t so unexpected but you need to beware that if they do you have NO ACCESS to those files, so keep a backup copy somewhere else.
  4. They don’t own your content. This is a good thing

It did not, however, way what if any use they would have for my information (such as my friends list).

I’ll have to think about whether or not this would be something I’d use. So far I haven’t really had a need to collaborate with others in my Facebook network. But now that I know I can, that may change. You can get more information at docs.com

Two great things that go great together? I guess that depends on you.

Do You Need Protection from Anti-virus???

April 16, 2010

Yep that’s right, Anti-virus. It’s not a typo and I don’t mean protecting yourself from viruses either. According to a post on Google’s Online Security Blog, fake anti-virus scams are becoming a big threat.

What does that mean? These are programs that give you a “warning” that your computer has been infected with a virus and “click here” to remove it/install an anti-virus program to get rid of it. Instead of getting rid of it you’re now infected and there goes all your personal information. Or your computer is now a zombie and part of a huge network of hacked computer being used for nefarious purposes. Yikes!

You can check out the Google Blog post here. It’s a sneak peak of a more complete study that they’ll be releasing soon.

But what can you do to make sure you’re safe? Install a legitimate Anti-virus program to start. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend big bucks on McAfee or Symantec either. If you don’t already have Anti-virus software (shame on you! or you have a Mac) then pop over to www.cnet.com. Every year they review the top Anti-virus programs and give recommendations. And every year (that I’ve read their review) at least one of the top 3 is a free program.

And keep in mind that your Anti-virus program isn’t worth a grain of salt if you don’t keep it up-to-date.

Use Pivot Tables?

April 16, 2010

I use Pivot Tables all the time. They’re incredibly powerful. Now I’ve never needed to use data from multiple sheets before and didn’t even know that was possible, but the folks over at Contextures Blog have a great post (with video) on doing just that.

You can check it out here.

Do You Change Your Passwords?

April 14, 2010

I don’t know about you but my IT department makes me change my computer password on the regular basis. And generally it’s been a standard practice to do so in many organizations. Computer experts for years have been recommending it also. It’s a security thing, right?

Well not so fast. Turns out that in a study by Microsoft, they found that changing your password regularly didn’t make any difference in thwarting cyberattacks.

Huh? you might ask. Well think about it. If someone hacks your “account” they’re not going to sit on it, waiting for you to change your password. They’ll use it immediately, probably changing your password first so you can’t access your account. And it looks like changing your password on a regular basis may have a detrimental effect in that more people will write down their passwords if they have to change them frequently. Makes sense, it can be harder to remember them if you’re constantly changing them.

I’ll be honest, I don’t change mine unless I have too. I have gotten a little smarter about it over the last couple of years.

  1. I steer away from easy to guess passwords, using a combination of letters, symbols and numbers that don’t mean anything
  2. Use a program to keep track of my passwords instead of writing them down. Yes this means that I used to do that, I had a printed sheet right next to my computer with all my login’s & passwords.

#2 has been fantastic! I have a Mac at home and an iPhone. So I use 1Password, it can keep track of all my information but requires that I type in a Master password before it’ll give me that information. The desktop version integrates with my browser, so it will automatically put my login and password into a site I’m logging into. After I put in my Master password that is. Nice, huh?

I highly recommend looking into a similar program for your use if you don’t already have one.

For more information on the study and it’s results, check out the article on Yahoo! News http://news.yahoo.com/s/ytech_wguy/20100413/tc_ytech_wguy/ytech_wguy_tc1590