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Messages - m_s [ switch to compact view ]

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Hi Mouser,

Thanks for reaching out. I had a lot of fun on DonationCoder, and learned a lot. For a while I ran a computer coaching/support service, very much supported by the wisdom of the forums - when I got stuck, I reached out to everyone here, and received a lot of support and good advice. Thanks for that.

Back in 2006 I bought my first Mac, and so I stopped dropping by so much.

I still love the idea of the community, and appreciate all the work you've done in building it! I hope it lives long and prospers.

m_s / Ian

Living Room / Re: Sleep/hibernate problems in Windows 7
« on: August 05, 2010, 04:10 PM »
Have now worked out that it seems to be a startup utility that messes things up - install it and the machine no longer sleeps, remove it and it sleeps like a baby.

Living Room / Re: Sleep/hibernate problems in Windows 7
« on: August 05, 2010, 03:50 PM »
And whaddaya know?! Restored to the day after I did the full system restore, and it works perfectly again! So now running the necessary windows updates, and then will try to test whether it's any of these, or some HP system update that's causing the problem.

Living Room / Re: Sleep/hibernate problems in Windows 7
« on: August 05, 2010, 03:38 PM »
Thanks for these responses. A short while after posting, we got in touch with the vendor's support people, whose opening response was 'Well, hibernate and sleep just don't work very well with laptops.' I couldn't believe this!

They recommended, and I did, a full system restore, and found that it worked perfectly for a day or so, sleeping and hibernating at will. But then it stopped working - dying every time, as before. I'm now thinking that it might have been one of the HP software updates that introduced the problem...  About to try rollback using system restore, and will report back in a while...

Living Room / Sleep/hibernate problems in Windows 7
« on: July 26, 2010, 12:59 PM »
Hi guys, it's been a long time since I was here, but I know this is always a great place to get support when I need it!

And I do: We bought a new HP Pavilion dm1-1111ea laptop yesterday.  It comes with Windows 7 pre-installed, and I'm unfamiliar with the operating system (having now been a Mac man myself for the past 4 years).  I can't get the machine to sleep or hibernate.  When I try - by using the Shutdown menu item, pressing the power button, or closing the lid: all of which are set up to put it into Sleep Mode - the screen dims, but the fans keep running, and the harddrive continues to tick over.  I can't then get the screen to turn back on, and have to eventually kill the machine to get it working again.

I've done everything I can think of: fine-tuning power settings, doing a hard reset (battery out, power button down for 20 seconds, restart), updating all software and drivers, re-flashing the BIOS, and nothing at all has helped.

Can anybody offer any guidance?  Getting pretty desperate here...


Living Room / Re: Breaking Word hyperlinks
« on: August 14, 2008, 05:59 AM »
Okay, now I understand the difference between relative and absolute hyperlinks, I think I have this figured.  I just force the document to use absolute hyperlinks ('x' in the Hyperlinks Base box under document properties) and then update fields through the document (ctrl+a and right-clicking one of the links and selecting 'Update Fields' worked fine on my Word 2000, but in Word 2002 you no longer have this 'Update Fields' option, so I'm still scratching my head about doing this on 2002, though I think F9 is the key).

Living Room / Breaking Word hyperlinks
« on: August 14, 2008, 04:58 AM »
I have a w-a-a-a-a-a-a-y complicated Word document, written collaboratively by a number of authors.  There are about 300 associated documents, each linked to from within the main document.  We're hitting problems with the links breaking, since the folder of document plus supporting material is on a USB drive, and that drive is getting a different drive-letter on different systems, but the links are not dynamically updating to the correct drive letter. 

Except: they do dynamically update when I don't want them to.  I know that a link pointed just to the title of the associated document will try to open the document from the same folder that the master document is in.  This works, but if we test it, Word then helpfully (?) adds in the drive and folder, which of course is wrong as soon as we move the USB drive to another machine.

We're planning to burn the finished document and supporting material to a CD, and of course we need to be certain that all the links will work as expected.  What can we do to be sure the links will continue to work?

General Software Discussion / Re: Merging Word documents
« on: July 31, 2008, 05:30 AM »
Thanks all for your suggestions...  It turns out the original documents are - as so very often - a dog's dinner of different styles, which means the output document turns out to have its fonts and styles all messed up.  I think I need to get my author to go back to the drawing board and rebuild this from scratch...

General Software Discussion / Merging Word documents
« on: July 30, 2008, 06:57 AM »
I'm pretty sure that somebody helped me with a similar question a few years ago, but I'm not finding it with a search of the forums.  Forgive me for repeating myself...

I need to combine several Word files into a single file.  I'm pretty sure the solution last time involved using a command prompt and it worked very well...  But for the life of me...

Thanks (again) for any help anybody offers...

Mini-Reviews by Members / TodoPaper
« on: July 02, 2008, 09:12 AM »
A while back, I wrote a review of TaskPaper over on (http://www.macspark....-win-a-free-license/).  The truth is that since then I've fallen once again into my old habit of tweaking the tool and not doing the necessary.  I played for a few months with RTM, again, and then settled to paper and my trusty, familiar old Moleskine pocket notebook (the same one I've carried everywhere for the past three years).  But now and then I have opened TaskPaper, updated my lists, downloaded the latest development version, and every time I've done this I've breathed a sigh of pleasure and relief.  There's something about plain text that I find so appealing.

But since I work on a Mac at home and on PCs during the day, I've searched for the best way to carry my lists.  What I've done in the past is to use the portable version of Notepad++, which is a fine solution and does the job perfectly well, but really only to a minimum of usability when you compare with what's possible in TaskPaper.

And then along came TodoPaper ($29.99,, which bills itself as inspired by TaskPaper.  The two programs are, in fact very similar, especially when you compare TodoPaper to the recent development versions of TaskPaper.

Both are really sophisticated envelopes for plain text files.  Type in

a test project:
- one task @computer
- another task @errand
- yet another task @call

and TodoPaper turns your text into the following list:


The @tags are clickable - so clicking @computer brings up a list of all my tasks with that tag, across all of my projects.  Click in the checkbox to the left of an item and TodoPaper adds @done and the date, and makes the font strikeout:


Of course, you might prefer to simply delete done tasks, but I like seeing what I've completed - and by clicking anwhere in the line and then using ctrl+down, you can move the completed task to the bottom of the list.

There are a few other keyboard shortcuts: ctrl+up to move an item up; ctrl+y to add the @today tag; ctrl+[1-9] to add an @priority tag; and if you prefer keyboard shortcuts to ':' at a line end, ctrl+p to start a new project; and ctrl+t instead of '-' at the start of a new line to add a new task.

Alt+o brings up a document outline, showing a list of all your projects or your tags (you choose which from a pull-down menu) down the left side of the window:


Another brilliant feature: you can tap ctrl+space from anywhere in Windows to bring up a quick entry box, from which you can add items to any of your projects.


That's about it.

Remember that I was looking for a way to use TaskPaper when I'm away from my Mac (never a happy time of the day for me).  Of course, I could have continued to use Notepad++, since the files saved by TaskPaper are ordinary text files, but TodoPaper adds so much functionality and elegance, and it works just like TaskPaper does.  Both offer a brilliantly simple and elegant to do list solution, and with TodoPaper on my USB drive I can now access my lists from just about any machine I find myself on.

I'm helping a friend with the following setup: two machines, one a laptop running XP, the other a desktop running ME.  The printer is plugged into the desktop machine, and he wants to be able to print from it from the laptop.  I have installed a wireless router for the laptop's internet access, while the desktop has a wired connection with the router.  The machines aren't currently networked together.  Can the DonationCoder hivemind help me get this working? 

My biggest problem is probably the fact that I'm offsite and needing to direct him by email and telephone, and I have no access to a Windows machine at the moment, so I'm needing to do it by memory and by Googling.  Though my searches are turning up lots of apparently relevant articles and sets of instructions, he's not getting results in following them, which leaves me wondering if this is just not possible between these versions of Windows?

Thanks for any help!

General Software Discussion / Re: Excel formula help?
« on: June 29, 2007, 06:58 AM »
Query options in the mail merge!  Query options in the mail merge!  Great!  Now I have a pristine Word doc with correct text...  Next step: a Word macro to make email messages of this doc...  Still after any suggestions if others can help...

General Software Discussion / Re: Excel formula help?
« on: June 29, 2007, 02:52 AM »
Thanks to all for your excellent help.  I have now worked out the Excel end of the process - it required several steps and IF... THENS, but it produces a usable list of pages for each author at the end.  What I did in the end was to use a formula to check when there was a new person in the author list, and then a formula to isolate the pages of each new author, and then a formula to format that list of pages. 

But now there's the Word end of it...  Mail-merge isn't built to do agile logic - at the moment, my Excel sheet uses a column to aggregate the list of each person's pages in a cell on the last line of their name (makes sense?), and where they have multiple pages, each individual cell above that list is left blank (still with me?).  So I want Word to skip these blank lines, and only mail-merge lines which have data in this particular cell - which data is the formatted list of pages... 

Phew!  This is complicated - but at the moment we're having to cut and paste a few hundred emails each month, and if I can get this to work it'll have been an afternoon very well spent!  Thanks again for any help.

General Software Discussion / Excel formula help?
« on: June 28, 2007, 10:34 AM »
I have a list of people's names and web addresses in Excel.  I am trying to make a Word mail-merge doc that sucks this info from Excel.  In the Excel sheet, some people have just one web address to their name, but others have 5 or 6, each of which is currently listed on a separate line.  I would like a formula that will combine all the pages belonging to each person, including a line break after each address, so that it's all clear and formatted when Word gets hold of it.  Es possible?  Any guidance much appreciated!

i have a big excel file - about 1,000 entries.  it's used for logging names of people responsible for the web-pages i keep up to date.  there's a review-date set for each page, and so every few months i need to write to each person and ask them to check for accuracy, etc., and let me know of any changes that need to be made.

i'm in the process of putting together a word mail merge document that can suck data out of the excel file.  i've got it to work with a single line, but i'm confused about how i can make it work where a person is responsible for several pages.  each page will be on a separate line in the excel file, and i expect there is something boolean that i can do, but i can't figure it...

i want it to check if the name in the 'person responsible' field recurs, and if so to insert the merge field again, and if not move onto the next name in the 'person responsible', and generate a new copy of the letter addressed to that name.  got it?  have i?  or am i asking the wrong question?

any help much appreciated!

Mini-Reviews by Members / Packrat - offline Backpack
« on: November 29, 2006, 09:34 AM »
I spent <a href="https://www.donation...dex.php?topic=3287.0">a very long time searching for the best way of managing my GTD setup.</a>  Although my job back then involved quite a lot of travel, I usually had my trusty Compaq laptop with me wherever I went, so a local solution was the best for me - and I was also in some places where my internet connection was very, very dodgy (most memorably: I once spent more than an hour connected via the world's slowest phone line to download about ten email messages at an edge of a jungle in India). 

Now a lot has changed: I'm running a Macbook instead of a PC at home, and I have two new part-time jobs, one of which is split between two locations, which means my work computing takes place on three different PCs.  Which makes it a little difficult to keep track of things...  Of course, my Moleskines are my trusty companions (a notebook and - at this time of year - two diaries, a red 2007 and black 2006).  But there are some kinds of information that are more easily accessed @computer than on paper.   

I have always loved the idea of 37signals's <a href="">Backpack</a> - I've had a free account pretty much since they started, and twice have upgraded to a pay-subscription and then downgraded after a couple of months of not really being able to make best use of it.  <a href="">Quite a lot</a> has been said already about how to use Backpack for implementing GTD.  My own difficulties have been around not always having a reliable internet connection.

But yesterday I came across <a href="">Packrat</a> ($24.95 - free trial available), which uses the Backpack API to allow Mac OS X 10.4 users to access their Backpack account offline.

My major usage of Backpack is going to be away from home - on one of my work PCs, or travelling with the Macbook and no guaranteed internet connection.  I track my work projects on paper, except for data that needs to be accessible between locations.  So, really it's on the Mabook that I most need offline access to my Backpack.

And Packrat gives me exactly that.  I'm able to add lists and notes and new pages with no internet connection - anything I would normally do online - and as soon as I can connect again, it synchronizes the offline and online content.  In this screenshot, you'll notice the 'Sync' button is dimmed, showing that I'm currently offline:

As soon as I reconnect, the Sync button shows properly again, and when I click it, Packrat does its magic.

What I love about Backpack, which has drawn me back to using it again and again, is its elegant simplicity.  Packrat is designed with exactly that sensibility - it does everything it needs to do to be extremely functional, without overdoing anything.  It's unfussy in its design, straightforward to use, and it does exactly what it says on the box.  It gives me offline access to my Backpack: how brilliant! 

I agree - less is not necessarily more, but just enough definitely is!

No other replies?  I thought one of the AHK evangelists would have leapt on this one!   :)   I've figured out a laborious macro involving various searches and replaces - if you search for bolded £5.67, Word treats this as three words! '£', '5', and '56' - and then you have to do the '.' separately.  But now it seems my work has macros disabled universally!  :(  Back to the drawing board.

In my new job I'm responsible for updating several hundred inter- and intranet pages.  I work with probably a hundred authors, most of whom prepare their text in MS Word, which means their documents are littered with silliness like 'smart quotes' that our CMS doesn't recognize - so I have lots of ?s littering any text I cut and paste.  That's not a major problem since I can just save as plain text; I wish I could get them all to work in plain text, but that's not an option given most of their level of expertise.  What would be really helpful is if I could record a macro that would search-and-replace formatting within their documents with the correct html tags - so, rather than a 'bolded' word, would end up with 'bolded' with the correct html prefix and suffix (I tried to enter that here, but every time I do this clever bulletin board bolds the word!).  I can probably work this out myself (although I am having some difficulty working out how to get Word to find a variable string of formatted characters and replace that string removing formatting and adding code), but I imagine this is something others have also had to do, so can anyone advise me on an easy way of doing this?

I contributed this short piece over at the D*I*Y Planner planner site a while back - kind of summarises my onward journey from the review that started this thread...:

Much as I love MLO, I should update this and say that I'm now mainly using paper.  I've started two new jobs this last fortnight, which have me working in three different locations, which has me thinking again about signing up for Backpack...  But I've not yet decided, and so far neither my notebook nor my calendar (paper both - Moleskine, of course!) has suffered from being unable to connect to the internet. ;-)

I'm in!  Been using it for a year now, and it's changed my life.

That's great fun!  Thanks for the tip.

Living Room / Passwords for networking Win XP and 2000
« on: July 31, 2006, 04:51 AM »
Here's what I've got: a server running Win 2000, accessed by a number of machines running different flavours of Windows - 98, 2000, and now two machines running XP.  The 98 machines can get into the server just by double-clicking in Network Neighbourhood (and I'm not concerned with them at the moment), but the 2000 and XP machines need to enter a username and password.  No problem here, but it would be more convenient if this process could be automated, or even if XP would just remember the passwords.  I've mapped the server as a drive on each of the XP machines, but there's no option for remembering the password.  Anybody have any suggestions?

Living Room / beautiful animation
« on: July 27, 2006, 11:59 AM »
I've no idea what's going on at the Icon Factory, but they're posting a series of lovely pixel animations - be sure to start with the first, as they're a narrative...:

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