Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Part 21: Control-alt-delete to log in

When I start up my Mac, it boots to a login screen. I type in my password (in the past, I never even had to do this, it just booted to the desktop, and if I ever find the need to do so I may set it back to that) and it goes to my desktop.

On the PC? It boots to a screen that says to hold down Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Once I do this, it allows me to enter my password. Once my password is in, it goes to the desktop. Now, I sometimes wonder why it needs this extra step; why it makes me do the three-fingered salute instead of just letting me type in my password. So I clicked "help" today for more information. I found that:

To log on, hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys, then press the Delete key. This key combination is recognized only by Windows, so pressing it before logging on ensures that you are giving your password only to Windows.

This applies only to your Windows or domain password. Passwords associated with Web pages or specific programs will not require you to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

Oh, where to start.

This key combination is recognized only by Windows

No shit, Sherlock. This is a Windows machine. I am booting Windows. I am going to use Windows. I am being forced in to dealing with Windows. Do I have a choice, Mr. Gates? I of course chose Windows because it is such a secure platform.

pressing it before logging on ensures that you are giving your password only to Windows

Oh, goodie. I'm sure that it would be next to impossible for someone to write a script that could be contained in a virus that would, I don't know, spoof this page and be activated by Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

And what if you turned on your machine and it didn't ask you to salute, but rather just gave your a password screen. Would you flip out and think it had been sabotaged? Or would you enter your password and go on your merry way?

Passwords associated with Web pages or specific programs will not require you to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete

Because most of these programs are not written by Microsoft, and therefore employ normal logic in their processes.

Well it seems as though you can turn it off. Done. But OH NOES it might kill my computer:
"Disabling the CTRL+ALT+DELETE sequence creates a 'security hole.' The CTRL+ALT+DELETE sequence can be read only by Windows, ensuring that the information in the ensuing logon dialog box can be read only by Windows."

Riiight. Whatever.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Part 20: Tab-delimiting whether you want it or not

Sometimes, I have data I want to put in Excel that's not in terrific shape. For whatever reason (generally: I didn't create it) fields are separate by a variety of methods: commas, spaces and tabs. What I want to do is put it in to excel, search for multiple spaces, replace them with a symbol (perhaps an ampersand) and then use the "text to columns" feature to get the text to line up properly in columns.

Yes, that is what I want to do. Excel, however has other ideas. I paste the data and it says (Is it the paperclip? At least seems to have been mercifully killed off.) "oh, look, I see tabs, they must want it tab-delimited" and it tab-delimits it. Which would work great, if it were tab-delimited. But if that were the case, I could just as well put it in to rows and then to a text to columns and tab delimit it myself. But no, it takes one step forward and at least three steps back.

So my data is all mangled. Some rows had three tabs and were delimited in to three columns, some had five and were in five, some had none, and were in none. Oh lah-dee-dah. That didn't work, so I went back and tried a "paste special." Assuredly, if I chose to paste in "text" it would, you know, let me paste text, without the formats. Oh no, the columns remain.

That's one step back. The next step back is to open Word. Why Word? Well, even though it is part of the same product suite, it seems to have been written by an entirely different team of chimpanzees. I paste the data in to Word and it doesn't break in to columns, probably because Word doesn't have that capability. I then find all tabs and replace them with spaces, so that every column is now delimited by multiple spaces.

Now, I can paste this in to Excel, and it doesn't break in to columns (thankfully it doesn't recognise it as "space delimited" and throw in a bunch of blank columns). I search for two spaces and replace it with a semicolon. Now I have strings of semicolons (e.g. ";;;;;"). That's easy enough, I run a series of "find ';;' replace with ';'" until I have each field separated by a semicolon. Then, I do text-to-columns, semicolon-delimit and Voila! I have my data in the format I want.

That was simple, right?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Part 19: Menu madness

Why, oh, why, does Windows collapse menus? Sure, I don't use every setting on a menu every time. But the extra time I spend wondering where oh where the options have gone before I realise that half the options on a menu are hidden certainly makes up for it. Please, let me just see every menu in its entirety every time.

There's probably a setting to change this but it would probably take fifteen minutes to find.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Part 18: Closing documents

Every so often, and by every so often I mean on an almost-daily basis, I have several Excel files open. In Windows, several Excel windows sort of cascade in to one main window, that is to say that there is the program window and several documents opened inside of it. It makes life easier in that you can minimise them all at once, but I'm not sold on how it works. (In OS X the windows open separately, that is to say that you can close one of them at a time.) It is not necessarily bad, it's different. It would make a lot more sense if this protocol was used for all applications, but of course it is not.

But here's where it gets bad. If I want to close the file I am looking at, I hit the wee "x" in the corner below the main red "x" to close it. That's fine. That almost makes sense. But let us say I want to close the whole program. I hit the red "x" and it asks me if I want to save the top-most file. And then it asks me for the others.

Now perhaps I have seven files open, and I get to the fifth one and realise, "oh, I don't want to close them all." So I hit cancel. I assume that it will take the rest of the files I have closed and do with them what I told it to do (save, don't save) but no...once you hit cancel it reverts to its first state, with all the files open! Then you have to go through and re-save/not save them all again. Fun!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Part 17: Save as PDF

When OS X came out in 2001 it included something that was, at the time, a nifty feature. In the print dialogue you could select, for any document, "save as PDF" which would, not surprisingly, save it as a PDF.

At a time when cross-platform compatibility was not what it is now (it was maybe slightly worse then, it still stinks) PDFs were relatively universally viewable (as they still are). But it's still quite useful, and I use it often.

Today, I learned how to create PDFs on Windows. Since there is nothing built in to XP (Which came out, ahem, a year later.) you have to use third party software. In this case, it has two pop-ups whilst it saves as a PDF unless you pay.

As my coworker put it "You'll get a bunch of pop-ups because it's free."

Has vista remedied this? Or, because Acrobat is not a Microsoft format, have they ignored it?

Part 16: Presenting with notes

Setting up projectors is hopeless. I think a clip from an article sums it up well:

A functional Presenter View has been included in Microsoft's PowerPoint 2007 ($95 upgrade at Amazon, for PowerPoint alone). Microsoft finally gave professional speakers software that allows us to have private, online notes synchronized with each of our slides.

But before you go running to install that product you should know three very important things: First, if you are a PowerPoint 2003 user seeking to get this feature you will be saddled with the significant cognitive overhead of having to learn PowerPoint 2007, with very marginal benefits for the vast majority of those who already know and are good at using PowerPoint 2003. PowerPoint/Office's 2007 ribbon interface is quite irritating to learn for PowerPoint 2003 users (there are third party plugins to get the classic 2003 interface but they don't help all that much). Second, remember that Microsoft doesn't allow PowerPoint 2003 and 2007 to exist on the same computer. They force you to install only one or the other on your machine. Third, don't think you can use PowerPoint 2007 on your laptop (for display) and your familiar 2003 on your desktop (to create and edit your presentations) without the following limitation. If you create anything in PowerPoint 2007 on your laptop, even using the 2003 compatible file type, it often won't display properly in PowerPoint 2003, and sometimes vice versa. So you if you install PowerPoint 2007 on your laptop to use its Presenter View you really shouldn't use your laptop to make or edit slides (unacceptable for most of us), or as I said, they won't display properly in PowerPoint 2003 (you'll get random font, size and italics changes when you try to import slides from your 2003 into your 2007 slide decks, lots of fun).

Bolds theirs, italics mine.

Where to start? Well, first it takes Microsoft years to figure out something which should be intuitive: that people want to have notes on the computer and slides on the projector. Trying to set it up in Office is hopeless, even when you are projecting on the computer and the screen it refuses to detect the second display.

Second, the updated version of their software was so braindead and not the least bit backwards compatible, so installing it results in a cascading litany of issues; enough that it is not even worth it.

Third, even this workaround doesn't necessarily work.

I only spent an hour trying to set the computer up to try to do this today. After failing miserably, I sauntered off, glad that it wasn't me making the presentation.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Part 15: Comic sans

Comic Sans, perhaps the only font with a website and movement to ban it (which I fully support), was created by Microsoft. Or, in other words, Microsoft unleashed this evil on the world.

Reading things in Comic Sans makes my eyes hurt. For serious.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Part 14: Insert...expletive here

Often in my typing, I have need to leap for the "backspace" key. It happened twice typing the last sentence. When I do, once in a while, I'll hit the "insert" key on my keyboard. All of the sudden, I'm typing over something I'd already written, and once I realise that I have to undo it or retype it.

This feature may have had a function in, oh, the '80s, but since the advent of the mouse it is much easier to drag over the part you want to delete rather than type over it. I mean, this function has been obsolete for twenty years, an eternity in computing terms, yet not only does Windows still support it, but the keyboards are designed to put the insert key half an inch from a big key that is often used (and generally flailed at).

Part 13: Reply with attachment? No way, Jose.

I get an email from a vendor. They want the email replied to with the attachment they sent.

There is no way in Outlook to easily "reply with attachment" it seems.

No, seriously.

I hate windows.

the vendor responds

I like my mac laptop better then any windows device.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Part 12: Requires mouse handling

Someone was trying to move the toolbar which had relocated itself. Once I couldn't figure it out (I tried right-clicking it which got me nowhere) I googled it.

I love the parts like

Moving the Windows taskbar is quite straightforward. However, it does require reasonably precise mouse handling. If you are new to computing and still developing your mouse-skills, coaxing the taskbar to move where you want it might seem a little difficult. If you are not yet confident with fiddly mouse manipulation, I would suggest that you postpone using this tip until you gain more mousing experience.

As opposed to, say, a Mac, where you do go to properties and do it that way. And it does not require mouse handling.

my dad responds

I showed this to our [house]guest, who works for the folks from Redmond. He just shrugged.