Jan 122013

select columns in WordYou can make columnar selections of text in your Word document, even when it isn’t in a Table. Click at the beginning of your selection, press the ALT key, then click again and drag to the end of your selection.

Format the text like you would any other selection (color, bold, font, and so on.)

To select non-contiguous text, just make your first selection, then hold down the CTRL key as you make your next (and any subsequent) selection(s).

Again, format the selection as desired.

make non-contiguous selections in Microsoft Word, Outlook, or ExcelBecause Outlook uses Word as the default editor, you can use these same selection tips in Outlook.

Selecting non-contiguous cells in Excel works the same way: click once in the first cell and hold the CTRL key as you click once in the other cells you want to select.

Jun 192012

We had heard about it, but it actually happened to us: a phone call from a “Microsoft technical specialist” telling us they had received a report from our computer in the last 30 days and there was a problem.

After a hearty laugh and an “Are you kidding me?” we hung up.

Unfortunately, many people don’t.  It’s a scam to get your credit card information and/or damage your computer.  Remember:  

Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer

Microsoft’s Safety & Security Center details some of the most recent scams using both e-mail and the telephone being committed under the Microsoft name.

6/26/2012.  Another call today, telling me those reports kept coming in to the “International Server” and my computer would be shut down in two weeks if I didn’t take action.  I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.

Mar 112012

Sometimes all you have to do is open an e-mail and malware is deployed.  Many times clicking a link in a spam message will cause malware to be downloaded to your computer.

You can stay ahead of the curve by checking the message header before you open an e-mail.

Message headers is information that travels with an e-mail and is chock full of information about where an e-mail came from. It doesn’t take long to zero in on the key information.  The Reply To field (if you clicked reply) is often a dead giveaway.  Looking at the routing information is another.

Previous versions of Outlook had a really handy tool to help you look at the message headers by selecting a message, right-clicking, and selecting Options from the contextual dropdown menu.  In Outlook 2010, Message Options are still there, you just have to create a shortcut manually.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to the File Menu
  2. Select Options.  This brings up the Outlook Options dialog box.
  3. Click on the Quick Access Toolbar (that’s where we will put the Message Options icon)
  4. In the Choose Commands From dropdown, select Commands Not in the Ribbon
  5. Scroll down to Message Options and select it
  6. Press the Add button.  Message Options will now appear in the Customize Quick Access Toolbar side.
  7. Click OK.

You will see the new Message Options icon in your Quick Access toolbar that appears at the top of Outlook.

Now you can select a message (but don’t open it!) and then click the Message Options icon to see the message headers.

Analysis of a span header will give you an idea of how to interpret the information.  If you are in the United States and see a domain name with a country extension like .cz (Czech Republic) or .ru (Russia), and the company does not have an office there, chances are very high that this is a nasty malware waiting to happen. 

If you have an Exchange Server-based network, ask us about installing a spam firewall.

Nov 022009

Windows 7 is out. As with all Microsoft operating systems, even though Microsoft provides an upgrade, they (and we) advise a clean install. From our reading, it appears a Windows 7 upgrade will set you on the path to instability and problems.

Jul 312009

A client recently had the need to convert a PDF document to a Microsoft Word document and enlisted our help.  Short of purchasing the full version of Acrobat, or purchasing a single-purpose conversion program (which can run anywhere from $29 to $99), the alternatives were pretty slim.  There are free conversion programs on the market, but the reviews were not overwhelmingly good.

Luckily, we discovered a free web-based conversion program that worked perfectly.  It is called PDF to Word (free!) and while it claims to be a beta program, we had no problems.  It preserved the formatting of everything, including placement of images and the formatting of a table.  You simply browse to the location on your computer where the PDF file is located, enter your e-mail address, and about 3-5 minutes later, you receive the Word document in your e-mail. 

Perfect for low-volume needs.

Mar 312009

Protecting against this much talked about worm is a multi pronged process.

1.  Make sure your system is fully patched (all of our clients are).

2.  You may want to disable AutoRun.  If you don’t, and you see a selection of Open Folders to View Files Publisher Not Specified do not choose that option.  Disabling AutoRun will not fully protect you against Conficker.

3.  Make sure your antivirus software is completely up to date (again, all of our clients are protected).

4.  Use strong passwords both for any user account and also for any file share in your environment.

A quick way to tell if your computer is infected is to try to access the Web site of a major antivirus vendor, which the worm blocks.

According to Microsoft, computers with the latest security updates, current antivirus software, strong passwords, and secured shares are protected against this worm.

Feb 032009

Update 7/16/2012:  Microsoft has extended support of Windows XP to 2014, which means patches to the operating system will be available for another couple of years.

Of course many businesses have long since migrated to Windows 7, which is a mature, stable, Operating System.

The latest word we have from our vendors is that Microsoft is extending the availability of XP until June of 2010.

Vista seems to have received a lot of bad press and the market pressure on Microsoft to continue to make XP available must have been significant.  For those that don’t run vertical market apps that might still be a bit wobbly on Vista, we think Vista is an excellent choice.  There is widespread support for it nowadays and device drivers are no longer the issue they once were. 


Jan 042009

UPDATE: This post was originally about a Gadget you could add to the Sidebar called Office Tips and Tricks.  Microsoft has determined that the Sidebar and Gadgets are a security risk and has stopped support and feeds completely.

If you are looking for Office Tips and Tricks, there are many sources, including the Microsoft Office Blog, the Office Training site, and right here on the Entré Computer blog.

Aug 252008

If you are preparing to pack a kid off to college, you can get a huge break on Office Ultimate 2007 (the Office suite that includes everything).  This is normally a very expensive program, but they are offering it to students (with some conditions) at just $59.95.  This normally sells for around $680, so that is a great deal.  Just go to http://www.microsoft.com/student/discounts/theultimatesteal-us/default.aspx for the full information.

UPDATE: Microsoft has a special site where they offer Student Discounts on all their software.  They also offer special Student Versions of some software suites.