Sheryl Canter

Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category.

Surface Pro with Windows 8: My Take

I’m a technophile, and I particularly love tablets. I bought the iPad within weeks of its initial release. I have a really nice Android tablet – Google’s Nexus 10. And now I have a Microsoft Surface Pro with Windows 8. I’ve used all three extensively. What do I think of the Surface Pro? It’s not perfect, but it’s very good.

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How to Turn off the Junk E-mail Filter in Outlook 2010

I recently switched over to Outlook 2010 from Outlook 2007 (I’m slow). I always disable the Junk E-mail filter in Outlook because I use something better: Popfile. But I was having trouble doing that in Outlook 2010. I selected the radio box for no filtering, but messages were still being directed to the Junk E-mail folder.

I took to the internet to search for an answer, and discovered that I was having this problem because I have multiple accounts, and Outlook 2010 handles junk mail filtering on a per-account basis. But there was mass confusion on how to access the settings for each account. There is no global setting area in the interface.

Even Microsoft MVPs on Microsoft sites were giving misinformation. Many were suggesting that people disable Junk E-mail in the registry. That didn’t sound right to me, and I didn’t want to do it. I do use some pieces of the Junk E-mail feature – the disabling of links and the safe/blocked sender lists. Plus, judging from peoples’ complaints, it seemed like the suggested registry tweak just disabled the interface and not the functionality!

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Kindle 3 Tips and Tricks

Kindle 3

I resisted the Kindle for a long time. I read a lot and I’m headache-prone, and those low-contrast early Kindles were not going to work for me. Also, I saw in reviews that Kindle books often lacked the footnotes and indexes of the paper versions. When I had occasion to create a Kindle book I realized why: the format is very limited and inconvenient for publishers.

But then I bought an iPad. The Kindle app is free, so I tried a couple ebooks. For most books I read, footnotes and indexes are not an issue, and I’m chronically low on bookshelf space. I like the built-in dictionary and being able to carry several books in a small package. So now I was sold on ebooks, but the iPad was not the ideal hardware. It’s just heavy enough that I don’t want to carry it around, the screen washes out in bright sunlight, and the battery life is only so-so. I can read books on my Droid X phone, which also has a Kindle app, but that drains the battery fast.

Amazon had dropped the price of the Kindle when the iPad was released, and the new Kindle 3 with its light weight, improved screen contrast, long battery life, and readability in direct sunlight was starting to look pretty good. So I bought one, and I like it a lot. I used it for a few days without reading the manual – the basics are not hard. But once I read the manual and did a little googling, I discovered some interesting things I didn’t know. What follows is a collection of tips and tricks for the Kindle 3 that I found especially useful:

  • Viewing PDFs and Other Document Types
  • Zapping that Ghost Dictionary in the Archive
  • Hotkeys and an Easter Egg
  • The Hidden Image Viewer

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Bluetooth Mouse Losing Connection No More!

Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000

Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000

I have a Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 that I bought when I bought my new Thinkpad with built-in Bluetooth. At the time I was running 64-bit Vista and all was well. Then I upgraded to 64-bit Windows 7, and suddenly the mouse started constantly losing connection.

There was no detectable pattern. It would work fine for a while, and then start disconnecting all the time for no apparently reason. Sometimes it would not wake up after sleeping, but sometimes it would quit while I was using it. At first I got it going again by removing the mouse from the list of Bluetooth devices and then adding it back in. That took too much time. Then, by accident, I discovered that I could wake it up by opening my Bluetooth settings and toggling the checkbox “Allow Bluetooth devices to find this computer”. If it was off I’d turn it on, if it was on I’d turn it off. That was faster, but still a pain.

I searched the internet and found many similar complaints, but no solutions. Several sites suggested upgrading your Bluetooth drivers. There’s no new driver for the Microsoft mouse, but I updated the Thinkpad Bluetooth drivers. No joy. Then the other day the mouse started quitting on me every few minutes and in desperation I searched again. This time I found the answer. There are two separate settings that need to be changed.

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NetworkedBlogs on Facebook Pages

The NetworkedBlogs app on Facebook was recently updated. For one thing, you only need four followers for a feed now. For another, you can use automatic updates to publish your blog to a Facebook page, as well as your profile.

Theoretically, this blog post will appear on my Facebook profile page, Can’t wait to see if it really does! The last one didn’t… But this one did! Cool!

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Locked & Vanishing Files in Dreamweaver and InDesign

Do you use Dreamweaver? Have you ever been editing a file and then suddenly you can’t save it and Dreamweaver reports the file as locked? And then if you reboot to unlock the file, you discover it has vanished?

Do you use the InDesign book feature? Have you ever saved the book and then discovered that it has vanished?

Both problems appear to occur only with CS4 running on Vista. [[Edit: Not just with Vista: It's reported in a comment below to have occurred on Windows 7. -sc]] Here are the workarounds.

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The Best WordPress Theme Ever: Atahualpa

I don’t like to build my Web sites completely around blog software, and yet I want them to have a consistent look and feel. I want the blog to look like the rest of the site. The blog on this site isn’t integrated – it looks completely different from the site’s home page and other pages. But the blog I just installed on another one of my sites looks exactly like the rest of the site – the theme is consistent throughout.

If you go to normaleating.com and click on the Blog button, you will see that the look-and-feel of the blog and the rest of the site are identical. This site contains much more than a blog. There’s a forum with a chat, a newsletter, various content pages (sample chapters from my book), a testimonials page, etc.

How did I get the blog to look like the rest of the site? The Atahualpa theme. (I can never remember that name. What does it mean?) This theme gives you a menu-driven interface to just about every WordPress theme option so you can make your site look exactly like you want. I had no trouble at all duplicating the layout of the rest of my site, and it was a lot easier to do in Atahualpa than it would have been manually. It takes a little time to set up because there are so many options, but none of it is hard. All you need to know is a little basic CSS.

Now that I’ve found Atahualpa, I’ll never use any other theme. I was so enchanted with it I sent the author a donation.

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Problems Removing and Installing Adobe CS4

Take my advice: Before you even think about installing Adobe trial software, do a full mirror backup of your computer’s hard disk, and be prepared to use it. I had horrible problems with Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4), and according to the three tech support guys in India that I spent hours on the phone with today, I am not the only one.

Here’s the whole sad story, with the ultimate solution.

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phpFreeChat for Drupal 6.x

I’m the maintainer for the phpFreeChat module on Drupal. Which is to say (lay person’s translation), I maintain the software that allows people using the Drupal content management system to add the excellent phpFreeChat instant messaging program to their Web sites.

People have been nagging me to update the module for Drupal 6.x. But, you know, I’m busy and trying to make a living. I like open source philosophically, but it takes a lot of time to do this work. Then someone took the highly persuasive tack of depositing some money into my PayPal account. That worked. phpFreeChat for Drupal 6.x has just been released.

If you use phpFreeChat with Drupal and have feature requests, consider the PayPal approach. I’m open to any reasonable offer.

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Integrate FlashChat in Drupal 5 or Drupal 6

FlashChat is a mature, full-featured chat program that is free without source code, $5 with. It can be integrated nicely with Drupal, but it’s not easy to figure out how. Here’s how.

The current version of FlashChat (5.0.10) contains a configuration file for Drupal integration (drupalCMS.php) that doesn’t work. So for starters, download the Drupal 5 & 6 Integration Kit.

That solves many problems, but not quite all.

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