Category Archives: Those who do…

“Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach.” It’s one of the first snarky put downs I remember, and I chuckle now as I bring 20+ years of front-line software experience to the classroom. I guess “Those who can… also Teach!”

My favorite “Power Button” in Microsoft Word

There are a lot of extra characters running around on your Word 2013 document that you can’t normally see. Every time you press a key – whether it’s the space bar, tab or enter – Word records it in your document. Add in to that mix the special section, page and column breaks, as well as fields for your Index and References, and you’ve got a stew that can really mess up your layouts.

The first step when working on the layout of a document is to look for those hidden features that affect the document so strongly.

What Is It?

The Show/Hide button is the key to seeing these heretofore invisible items, and it’s a toggle button. That means it is like a light switch, either on or off. Many people may already have experience with the Show/Hide button because they either:

  1. Accidentally turned it on, or
  2. Inherited a document with Show/Hide already turned on.

Where Is it?

The Show/Hide button looks like a paragraph return, and is in the Paragraph group on the Home tab. Turning it on and off is a simple as clicking on it. For you power users, the keyboard shortcut for Show/Hide is Ctrl + Shift + 8.

The location of the Show/Hide button in Microsoft Word 2013.

You’ll notice power users flicking it on and off as they massage a document into the shape they desire. If you look closely at the figure above, you can see paragraph returns, but also tabs and a page break. Text that has a style rule applied to it has a small dot in the margin beside it.

Add the keyboard shortcut for Show/Hide to your repertoire and you’ll be much faster on the draw when it comes to laying out complex Microsoft Word documents.

Zipping and Un-Zipping Files

Zipper graphic

It seems inevitable that our files sizes are growing larger while our computer software is growing more complex. Remember the days of floppy disks that were 500K? Nowadays we are seeing hard drives that hold terabytes of information and thumb drives that hold gigabytes.

The real genius will the one who solves the problem of making computer files smaller while keeping the software advanced.

To help you handle large file sizes, we have something called a .ZIP archive. You can tell you’ve been sent a .ZIP archive because the file name will end in .ZIP.

.ZIP files are great because they do two things very well:

  • ZIP archives compress file sizes and make it easier to store and send or receive computer documents.
  • ZIP archives are also a great way to group and store related sets of files, such as photographs from a trip or computer files related to your business.

In fact, one of the primary reason people create .ZIP archives is to speedily send files via email and other electronic transfer.

Creating .ZIP Archives is Easy

If you are new to this idea, the good news is that .ZIPping is a feature built into most modern computer operating systems. If you’re not familiar with what an operating system is, it is what most people refer to when they say Macintosh or Windows. Follow these simple steps to .ZIP a folder or an individual file:

Windows 8.xMacintosh 10.x
  1. Right-click on the file or folder you want to compress.
  2. Choose Send to on the dropdown menu.
  3. Chose Compressed(zipped) folder from the flyout menu.
  4. Be aware that you now have two copies of the same material on your computer: the original file or folder as well as a new .ZIP archive. If you are looking at an icon view, you’ll see that the .ZIP archive has a little zipper on it.
  1. Right-click on the file or folder you want to compress.
  2. Choose Compress “File/Folder Name” where File/Folder Name is the name of the object you clicked on.
  3. Be aware that you now have two copies of the same material on your computer: the original file or folder as well as a new .ZIP archive. If you are looking at an icon view, you’ll see that the .ZIP archive has a little zipper on it.

What do I do with a .ZIP archive when I get it?

For starters, hang on to it. It is usually easier to store a .ZIP archive than it is to store the original uncompressed contents. But if you want to see what is inside the .ZIP archive, you’ll be glad to know that it’s easy to decompress them.

Windows 8.xMacintosh 10.x
  1. Right-click on the file or folder you want to decompress.
  2. Choose Extract All… on the dropdown menu.
  3. An uncompressed version of your contents as well as the original .ZIP archive will be available to you in the Finder.
  1. Double-click on the file or folder you want to decompress.
  2. An uncompressed version of your contents as well as the original .ZIP archive will be available to you in the Finder.

A Caution for Windows Users

We’re all pretty-well-trained to double-click on a file name to get it to open. In fact, you’ll notice in the instructions that that is all Macintosh users have to do. Windows users who double-click, will get a different result.

Instead of the .ZIP archive decompressing, Windows users who double-click will be taken to a special tab in Windows Explorer called — of all things — Compressed Folder Tools Extract. The reason this can be confusing is that you can see inside the .ZIP archive and might be tempted to just double-click on a file-name to open it. Unfortunately, this sometimes works with limited results. You might be able to see the final document, but you will quickly encounter problems with changing, editing or saving documents handled this way. The reason why is that the base document is still compressed and sitting in the .ZIP archive.

If you are a Windows user who makes the mistake of double-clicking on the archive name, just click on the files you want to work with and choose Extract All from the Compressed Folder Tools Extract tab.

If you’re not sure what a Windows Explorer window is or what I’m talking about, just check out the image below for more information. For extra credit, you can see a perfect example of the .ZIP icon sitting right beside my Recycle Bin.

Windows Explorer Compressed Folder Tools Extract tab

 

For more information about the .ZIP archive format and its uses, check out this great article on Wikipedia.

Get to know your partners in crime: the mouse and the keyboard

LMP Bluetooth Keypad

One of the first skills I like to work with students on is how to use the mouse and the keyboard. Though many of us make use of these items every day, a lot of us don’t know many of the cool things we can do with them.

Let’s start with a caveat

There are distinct differences between a mouse/keyboard combination on a Macintosh Computer versus a Windows machine. I’ll make note of any differences in the article

The Keypad

  1. Take a look around and see if you have a keypad. The keypad is the square extension on many keyboards that has a traditional 10-key input for numbers similar to an out-of-date adding machine. Though available for both Mac and Windows, many laptops lack the keypad.
  2. Cautionary note: be sure the number lock key is pressed. Many people use numbers in their passwords and consistently type their passwords using the keypad. The problem arises when you assume the number lock key is pressed. Failing to do so will give you different results, and if you’re typing into a password field, your login will fail. When typing passwords it is best to use the number keys at the top of a normal keyboard.

 The Mouse

  1. The mouse is very sensitive, and is growing more so as developers add special touch sensors to the devices. Being aware of what you click and where you click will help you to get the results you expect.
  2. The manufacturers of all computers assume that you are right handed. They also assume that you keep the mouse to the right of the keyboard. When you are asked to left-click or right-click the mouse, they are referring to which side of the top of the mouse you click. Did you lefties know that you can reverse this perceived bias in your favor? See the tip below, but just remember that all instructions are now mirrored. So when someone using a right-handed mouse right clicks, you’re going to left click.
  3. Mouse Preferences on the MacintoshMacintosh:
    • Click on System Preferences in your Dock or Finder.
    • Locate the Hardware section (bold text), and click on the Mouse button
    • Click on the Point & Click tab at the top of the window
    • Locate the drop down arrow beside “Secondary Click, Click on right side” and click on it.
    • Choose Click on left side from the drop down menu.
    • Close the Mouse window
  4. Windows Mouse PreferencesWindows 8:
    • Hover your mouse in the lower right or upper right corner of the screen to expose the Charms Bar.
    • Click on the Settings icon.
    • Click on Control Panel
    • Click on Hardware and Sound
    • In the Devices and Printers group, click the Mouse hyperlink.
    • On the Buttons tab, put a check mark beside “Switch primary and secondary buttons”
    • Click on Okay
    • Close the Control Panel window.

Math on the Keyboard

One of my favorite classes to teach is Microsoft Excel Formulas and Functions. All of the math symbols are available on the keyboard, and some of them are on the keypad, too. Here’s a little table of some of the most common ones.

Math FunctionKeyboard LocationOn Keypad
Additionshift + = (results in “+”)yes
Subtractionhyphen (results in “-“)yes
Multiplicationshift + 8 (results in “*”)yes
DivisionForward Slash (results in “/”)yes
Percentageshift + 5 (results in “%”)no
Greater ThanShift + . (results in “>”)no
Less ThanShift + , (results in “<“)no