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Ron Auerbach
Software Training and Consulting

702 Fifth Avenue South, # 8
Kent, WA   98032-6026
Phone: 206-355-8304     Fax: 253-813-2452
Previous Software Tips

Date Topic
12/10/2001 Expressing dollar figures in Microsoft Excel
11/26/2001 Using Tables: Word vs. Wordperfect
11/5/2001 Easier access to folders and shared items in Outlook
10/29/2001 Automate your PowerPoint Presentation
10/15/2001 Pentium 4 owners and buyers beware!
7/30/2001 Manage several e-mail accounts using Outlook Express
7/9/2001 Prevent automatic hyperlinking in Word
6/25/2001 Customize your start menu
6/18/2001 Back-up your hard drive
6/4/2001 Excel: think and work in English
January to May tips Even more valuable and helpful tips & techniques

December 10, 2001

Expressing dollar figures in Microsoft Excel

Many people will use the "$" icon to format those cells containing monetary figures, but is that "dollar-sign" icon really money?

The answer depends upon how you look at money because Excel has 2 ways to express dollar figures:

  1. The "$" icon is called accounting money, meaning both decimal points and dollar-signs line-up: $100.00 and $ 10.00.
  2. There is a 2nd one, called currency, which also lines-up the decimal points, but NOT the dollar signs: $100.00 and $10.00.  Unfortunately, there is no icon for this one, but it is easily formatted by:
    • Highlighting the column(s) or cell(s) you wish to format.
    • Clicking the Format menu and selecting Cells.
    • You'll see a dialog box appear and select the Currency option on the left.  You'll be able to choose a currency symbol (useful for those of you dealing with foreign currencies), # of decimal places, and how you want to express negatives.
Which method you choose is purely a personal choice, but note that the accounting one does make your columns wider; something that could be a problem for those of you having both very large and very small dollar figures.

And lastly, accounting automatically formats all negative figures to be enclosed in parentheses, while currency gives you various options from which to choose.


November 26, 2001

Using Tables: Word vs. Wordperfect

Microsoft Word may be the #1 choice for most people, but when it comes to doing numerical calculations in tables, such as adding-up numbers in a column, Wordperfect has had 2 major advantages over Microsoft Word for many years.
  1. First, Wordperfect has the ability to instantly and automatically update all calculations as soon as numbers change--same as in Microsoft Excel.  To update these same results in Microsoft Word, you would first need to click on a cell containing the result, then press F9.
  2. And second, Wordperfect has something called a Floating Cell, which allows you to insert a calculated result anywhere (on any page, as many times as needed, formatted the same or not) in your document.  As your numbers are changed or updated, your floating cell(s) are also immediately updated--same as in Microsoft Excel.  Sorry Word users, you don't have this feature.
If you want to learn more, please don't hesitate to contact us.

November 5, 2001

Easier access to folders and shared items in Outlook

One nice thing you can do with Microsoft Outlook is create and modify the gray Outlook Bar on the left-hand side containing the icons for things like your Inbox, Calendar, Tasks, etc.   If you don't see it, you can turn it on by clicking the View menu, then selecting the Outlook Bar option.

Now those of you who have shared items like calendars for example, or folders separating-out certain e-mails for example, will like this little trick.

You can make a bar just like My Shortcuts, except it will be whatever you want it to be, and you can create as many of them as you wish.   You can then add shortcuts to your various shared items or folders making them more easily accessible.

Why do it?   Because you can have easier access to things by having shared items or folders in just in 1 spot!   That's right, you can have a single shortcut to all items relating to a specific person or project--e-mails, tasks, contacts, and notes.

To accomplish this, just follow these simple steps:

  1. First, create a new menu by right-clicking in either a blank area of the Outlook Bar or on a gray menu such as Outlook or My Shortcuts,
  2. Choose the option to Add a new group and name it,
  3. If you don't have your folder list visible--no problem!   Just click on your newly created menu and right-click in a blank area.   Then choose Outlook Bar Shortcut which will take you to the folder list.   Choose the one you want and click OK--repeat as necessary.
  4. If your folder list is already visible, just click and drag a folder or shared item onto the group you just created and let go.   Outlook will then create a shortcut to it.   Repeat this as many times as needed.
That's all there is to it!   If you change your mind and don't want that shortcut, right-click on it and choose the option to remove.   Give it a try and let us know what you think.

October 29, 2001

Automate your PowerPoint Presentation

When making presentations, many people prefer to manually control what happens next and when it happens.   However, others prefer those timings to be pre-set so that everytime the presentation is made, it is always done the exact same way.

But how do I get my presentation to progress by itself?   Just follow these simple steps:

  1. First open the presentation you wish to automate and then click on the Slide Show menu,
  2. Click the option to Rehearse Timings,
  3. The presentation will now begin and PowerPoint will display a running timeclock showing you the amount of time elapsing,
  4. Using your mouse or spacebar to advance what happens next, run through your presentation as if you were actually giving it,
  5. When completed, PowerPoint will display a box showing you the exact amount of time elapsed, asking whether you want to use these times.   If so, press Yes, if not, press No.

    If you are not satisfied with the timings, begin at step 1 and run through it again until you are satisfied.

When you have completed your timings and view your presentation in Slide Sorter view, you'll notice the times underneath each slide on the left-hand side.

When you run your presentation the next time, PowerPoint will automatically use those pre-recorded timings and the presentation will seem to progress all by itself.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!


October 15, 2001

Pentium 4 owners and buyers beware!

We thought you should know something about the Pentium 4 that can drastically affect your ability to upgrade in the future.

Intel is changing the size of the CPU (the processor or brains of the computer), making it smaller in size and discontinuing the larger version. The new smaller one will not fit in the larger size models, and vice-verse.

The current size (larger one), referred to as Socket 423 is being replaced with a smaller one called Socket 478. The new 478 will allow the Pentium 4 to go faster, beyond 2 GHZ!

However, anyone with the current 423 models will not be able to accept any of the 428 CPU's and will thus be limited in upgradability.

So how do you know which one you have? You'll need to check!


July 30, 2001

Manage several e-mail accounts using Outlook Express

You might be familiar with Microsoft Outlook, which is a combination e-mail system, calendar, scheduling tool, sticky notes, contact management system, and task manager. But Microsoft also has just an e-mail system that you might not be familiar with known as Outlook Express.

It is sort of a mini version of Outlook's e-mail and has some features like the ability to handle multiple e-mail accounts which may interest you.

In Outlook Express, each e-mail address is set up as a separate Identity. Whenever you start the program, you will have the ability to select which Identity you want to use.

While Outlook will handle multiple e-mail address too, the difference is that in Outlook, it will send and retrieve messages for all addresses together. In Outlook Express, you work with one address at a time, which can drastically reduce time and allow you to focus on a specific address. And lastly, Outlook Express also gives you access to the web, so you can be checking your e-mail and surfing the web too.


July 9, 2001

Prevent automatic hyperlinking in Word

Whenever you type a website or e-mail address, Microsoft Word formats it as a hyperlink.

This is nice if you really do want to be able to click on it and go there, but if you want just the text itself, it can be annoying! Especially if you accidently click on the link!

So how do you prevent Word from creating this automatic link?

  1. Go to the Tools menu, and select Autocorrect,
  2. Click the option Autoformat As You Type, then
  3. Uncheck the box: Internet and network paths with hyperlinks
Doing this will tell Word to just type the text and not create a hyperlink to it. It is important to note that this will remain in effect until you turn it back on, so keep that in mind!

For more tips or to order training, please contact us and we'll be glad to help!


June 25, 2001

Customize your Start Menu

Customizing what programs and shortcuts appear in your Start Menu isn't as tough as you might think.

To add, delete, or change the arrangement of items in your Start Menu, just:

  1. Right-click on your Start Menu, then click Open
  2. That will take you to the Start Menu folder and display a listing of all items there
  3. Add, delete, or move any item or shortcut you wish, then close the folder.
  4. Your changes will take effect immediately.
For more tips or to order training, please contact us and we'll be glad to help!

June 18, 2001

Back-up your hard drive

Suppose your Windows' crashed and you were unable to load any of your programs or files. What would you do?

Or suppose you bought a bigger hard drive and wanted to transfer everthing on your current one to the new. How would you do this?

Fortunately for you, there are products on the market today, such as Norton Ghost and Partition Magic which make duplicating a hard drive very easy.

These products create an EXACT duplicate of your hard drive, right down to its formatting and all contents: programs and data alike!   This means, that should one drive go bad, you'll have an EXACT duplicate already formatted and ready to go!   This makes upgrading to a bigger hard drive much easier.

And for those of you simply wishing to back-up your current hard drive, you'll be able to do so onto media like Zip and floppy disks and even CD's.

And some of these products, like Norton Ghost 2001 for instance, can even add and remove files so it can keep your backups totally updated.


June 4, 2001

Think and work in English using Excel

When working with spreadsheets, most Excel users think of each cell as a combination of letters and numbers--A1 or H13 for example.

However, Microsoft designed it so you can think "in English" rather than in cell addresses.

Let's assume that we have a spreadsheet containing some sales figures. Cells A4 through A7 represent our different divisions, cells B4 through B7 represent 1st Qtr Sales for our various divisions, and cells C4 to C7 represent sales for the 2nd qtr.

To Excel, each individual cell has a value, but it doesn't understand the real meaning of that value. You know that each cell's value is really a sales figure, but Excel just knows its a number.

However, it is possible to educate Excel by following these steps:

  1. Highlight the cells B4 to B7, then click inside the Name Box, which is the spot where Excel identifies the cell you're in, and the cell address will become highlighted
  2. Type in a name you would like to assign to that group of cells, such as qtr1sales, and press the Enter key.
  3. Repeat this process for cells C4 to C7, except name it qtr2sales.
Excel now knows that cells B4 to B7 represent 1st qtr sales and cells C4 to C7 represent 2nd qtr sales.

Why is this useful? It's useful for several reasons:

Now the best part! Not only can you label multiple cells, as we did in our example, but you can also label a specific cell, such as totalsales.

To do this, you do the same as before, except you only highlight the 1 cell you wish to name.

If you want to learn more about this or other techniques, please contact us for assistance!

Come back next week for another useful trick.