First Word Problems: The Easy Way to Fix Line Spacing in Word

When a new user starts up Microsoft Word, one of the first comments is: “Why is there so much space between the lines?” The next comment of course is: “How can I get rid of it?”

There are simple answers to both questions. In fact, there are a number of answers. But here I will give you the easiest.

First of all, let’s note that there are actually two kinds of spacing between lines in Microsoft Word. There is regular old line spacing between each of the lines. And there is also paragraph spacing between each paragraph. It is often hard to see where each of the paragraphs are, so it is often hard to distinguish paragraph spacing from line spacing.

The Easy Solution: No Spacing

I see you looking at your watch. You just want to get a document printed and do not want to hear a dissertation on spacing from someone who sounds like a space cadet.

So, here is the easy solution: Just get rid of all line spacing. Now if you want to have extra space between paragraphs, just press the Return key again, as if you were using an old typewriter.

Here’s how to do it: Select all of your document by holding the Control key and pressing the A key. Then, in the Home ribbon, click the Style called No Spacing.

MS Word Choose No Spacing

That’s it.

Of course, if you prefer not to use the keyboard shortcut to select all of your document, you can use the mouse. On the right side of the Home ribbon, click Select and then choose Select All

MS Word Select All

 

 

 

 

 

— Rich Malloy

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How to Post Panoramic Pictures

Panoramic Posts banner
It took a while, but I finally started using the Panoramic Picture feature on my iPhone 6. Why didn’t I use it before? Two reasons. First, I admit it — I forgot it was there. Second, well, what do you do with a panoramic picture after you take it? Printing it out on a giant piece of paper is ridiculous. There are not many places on the Web where you can post it. And sending a 10+MB picture to someone by email will probably clog up their inbox.

Finally I did find a nice place to post panoramic pix. It is a great little Web site with a truly wonderful design. It’s beautiful. And if I sound a little biased here, it’s because I created this site. And, you can create one too.

Let me repeat that in case you are multitasking. You can post these panoramic pictures on your own site. That’s right — your very own site — and it’s easy. And free!

But it does involve a little work. Here is a step-by-step procedure on how to do it. For this example, we will use a panoramic picture created on an Apple iPhone 6 and we will post it on a WordPress.com site using a PC. I haven’t tested the procedure on Android phones or other sites such as Blogger.com, but the procedure should not be markedly different or more difficult. With enough incentive, you might possibly be able to do the whole procedure on a smartphone. But I like the easy way, and that is on a PC.

[If you want to see what a panoramic picture looks like on a WordPress site, check out my personal blog at richmalloysblog.wordpress.com.]

  1. First, transfer the panoramic picture from your smartphone to your computer:
    1. There are several ways to do this; Pick your favorite
    2. I usually just email the photo to myself
  2. Next, create a WordPress site — hey, it’s not that hard:
    1. Go to wordpress.com
    2. Click the button: Create Website
    3. Click the button: Select Free
    4. Pick a Theme. The “Cubic” theme is good for photos and looks good on smartphones.
    5. Choose a web address for your site, e.g., “somethingnice.wordpress.com
    6. Click the button: Create My Site
    7. Enter your email address and then make up a username and password
    8. Log into your email account and verify your account
    9. Congratulations! You have a personal website.
  3. Now, let’s put your name on the front door:
    1. Click the button: Customize Your SiteWordpress - Thanks for signing up2
    2. On the left, click the option for Site Title, Tagline, and LogoWordpress - Customizing a site2
    3. Edit the Site Title and Tagline, e.g., “Rich’s Panoramic Pix” and “Panoramic pictures taken by Rich Malloy”Wordpress - Site Title, Tagline2
    4. Click the button at the top: Save & Publish
    5. Click the X at the upper left to close the Customize panel
    6. Congratulations — You now have a personalized personal website site!
  4. With the website up and running, let’s post our first picture:
    1. In the upper left of the WordPress screen, double-click the button: My Sites
    2. If you do not see your new site, click the link: Switch Site and choose your site
    3. A “Stats” page will appear; In the future you can use this to see how many people visited your site.
    4. On the left panel, by the option Blog Posts, click the button: AddWordpress Stats page2
    5. In the Title box at the upper right, type a suitable title: Panoramic Picture of XXX
    6. In the large text box at the right, type some text explaining your picture: This panoramic picture was taken at XXX. Click it twice to zoom in. Use arrow keys to scroll.Wordpress Post Title and Text2
    7. Press the Enter key on the your keyboard to move to a blank line below the text
    8. Click the button: Add Media
    9. If needed, click the tab: Upload FilesWordpress Insert Media2
    10. Click the button: Select FilesWordpress Select Files button2
    11. Browse to the folder containing your panoramic picture and select the picture.
    12. Set the size to Large (this determines the size of the preview image)
    13. Click the button: Insert into postWordpress Media Size
    14. Click the button: PublishWordpress Ready to Publish2
    15. In the upper left, click the button: My Sites
    16. Click the option: View Site
    17. Your picture has now been posted on the Web
  5. And finally, get the link for your picture so that you can send it to friends:
    1. If not already there, go to your site, e.g., somethingnice.com
    2. Click the square of the blog post with the desired picture
    3. Click the address bar at the top of the browser window to select the web addressWordpress Copy Webpage Address2
    4. Select the whole address, if it is not already selected
    5. Copy the address by pressing the keys Ctrl + C (or Command + C on Mac)
    6. Paste the link into an email message, tweet, or Facebook post.
    7. Be sure to tell people they have to click the picture to zoom in and to use arrow keys to scroll around it.

If you post a nice panoramic picture, feel free to send me a link. And if you find other places to post these amazing pictures, please let me know.

— Rich Malloy, Aug. 2015

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Excel’s Most Amazing Feature

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 5.31.12 PMOne of the most tedious things to do in Excel is to separate full names into first and last names. You might have to do this, for example, if you want to alphabetize a list of people by last name. Yes, you can create a formula that will parse out the last name, but that is beyond the skill level of many Excel users. And even if you know the formula, recreating it time after time is almost as tedious as manually typing in the last names.

Well, the good folks at Microsoft have come up with a great way to solve this. Instead of using the computer as a fancy typewriter/adding machine, they have actually asked it to spend a few clock cycles thinking of what the user might want. Imagine that! And in this case, Excel does a great job of guessing what you need.

The feature is called Flash Fill, and I could describe it here, but you really have to see it to appreciate it. Fortunately, Microsoft has prepared a very nice video detailing this feature along with an older tool called AutoFill. I recommend both of these tools as real timesavers.

Microsoft’s video on Excel’s AutoFill and Flash Fill feature

Flash Fill video image

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The Survivor: The iPod Shuffle

How to Use the Perfect Podcast Player

iPod Shuffle IMG_2694-2 - 297pxWill the tiny iPod Shuffle go the way of the iPod Classic? The iPods as a group have been victimized by ever dwindling sales over the past few years. But Apple just this month (July 2015) trotted out a new set of Shuffles, now including the same colors on the current iPhones. Let’s hope the changes are limited to the outside color. The internal design, as I will prove shortly, is perfect as is.

I am pretty attached to my tiny green iPod Shuffle. And much of the time, it is literally attached to me, thanks to its aluminum clip. In fact, of the several Apple devices I own, my little Shuffle is the most used. When I am home and not using my computers or watching TV, the Shuffle is clipped to my pants pocket, loaded with almost 2GB of podcasts. It is also a must-have companion when I am out getting some exercise. While doing mundane tasks such as cooking or cleaning, I can listen to the latest tech news and analysis from Leo Laporte, security tips from Steve Gibson, entrepreneurial advice from Andrew Warner, investment opinions from Motley Fool, and countless other amazing – and free – information sources. And even though its green color has now been discontinued, this postage-stamp-size device continues to do a better job with podcasts than my iPhone 6.

Full text.

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Improve the Sound of iPhone Calls

iPhone FaceTime button 200pctThe old joke is that the iPhone is a great device — but not a great phone. This has been a real problem for me. Ever since the my iPhone 3G, an iPhone has been my main business phone. Callers sound pretty good on my end of the conversation, but on those rare occasions when I hear a message I have left on a customer’s voice mail, I cringe. It’s not just hearing one’s one voice — it is the terrible way that the iPhone and cell system transmits voice calls.

I have tried several ways to fix this. A headset with microphone sounded even worse. Skype calls worked well, but the phone number was different and confused my clients. I even tried my old wired phone in my office, which sounds great, but that cruel device forced me to (shudder) dial the phone numbers! Oh, the humanity!

Thanks to an item at gottabemobile.com by Adam Mills, I learned of a hidden feature of the newer iPhones that greatly improves the sound of outbound calls. It turns out that FaceTime Audio bypasses the cellular system and send calls over WiFi to the Internet. The only difference to the caller is that you sound much better.

What really irks me is that this solution has been staring me in the face for the past year or two, and I didn’t realize it. If you have FaceTime turned on, your Contacts will show a blue phone icon near the phone number. Of course, if you tap the phone number, you make a normal cell call. But, if you are WiFi range, and you tap the blue telephone symbol, you will make a FaceTime Audio call with much improved voice quality.

Now, it sure is nice to discover a new feature of my smartphone that makes it even better. But, it is a bit depressing to realize that the dumbest feature of my smartphone is the person using it.

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How to Bolster LastPass

LastPass Logo 2As most LastPass users have learned, on June 15, 2015, LastPass posted a notice on its website saying, “our team discovered and blocked suspicious activity on our network.” The company goes on to say that it found no evidence that any encrypted user vault data was taken. But it does recommend that users change their passwords and use multifactor authentication. Also, if anyone is dumb enough to use their LastPass master password as a password on other accounts, they should change their password immediately.

For anyone not familiar with LastPass, this is a password manager program that stores all of your passwords in a secure vault on the Internet. The vault is protected by a password known only to you.

Is LastPass still secure? I can only go by what security experts say. And my favorite expert, Steve Gibson, says he still trusts it. That is good enough for me.

But, that said, I did change my password and set up multifactor authentication.

Multifactor authentication simply means that you use two or more techniques to prove that you are really you. Usually this involves a password and a cellphone. I set up LastPass to use the Google Authenticator app on my iPhone. Now when I access my LastPass vault from a new computer, I need to enter my master password and then enter a code that appears in the Authenticator app on my phone. A little more inconvenient, yes, but my password vault is very valuable to me, and I want to protect it as much as possible.

Changing the password on LastPass is straightforward, but adding multifactor authentication was a bit tricky. In the near future I will provide a guide on how to do this.

There was a time not long ago when a password manager was simply a convenience. Now, when people have several dozen passwords to keep track of, and each must be long, random, and different, a password manager has become a necessity. If you are feeling a bit uneasy about LastPass, be sure to use one of the other highly rated password managers: 1Password or Dashlane.

— Rich Malloy

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LastPass: Good Passwords Made Easy

Originally posted Jun 17, 2013. Updated Jun 29, 2015.

Security experts recommend long, random passwords — and a different one for each Web site — and don’t write them down anywhere.

Yeah, right.LastPassLogo

But, there is a fairly easy way of doing exactly what they say.

As David Pogue once pointed out, the only realistic way of keeping handling secure passwords is to use one of the password management programs available now. They are relatively easy to use and inexpensive if not free.

Pogue recommended a program called Dashlane, which admittedly has a number of nice features. And it’s free. But, if I’m going to be putting all my secure passwords into one basket as it were, I want to be very sure about the people who built the basket. I particularly want to know where those people live. But when I go to the Dashlane Web site, there is not even a hint about what country it is based in, let alone the mailing address.

Veteran computer expert Steve Gibson recommends another password manager called LastPass, which is from a company by the same name in Fairfax, VA. Gibson originally reviewed the software extensively on his Security Now podcast in 2010. In 2011, he reiterated his support for the program. One of Gibson’s favorite acronyms for computer security is TNO, for “trust no one.” But I trust Steve.

Like Dashlane and many other password managers, LastPass is free on Windows and Mac computers. Following the “freemium” business model, there is also a Premium version that costs all of $12 a year and provides the ability to run LastPass on your mobile devices.

LastPass works by encrypting your vault of passwords using a master password on your computer and then storing this encrypted vault on its server. LastPass does not know your master password and cannot recover your passwords if you forget it. When it is fully set up, all you need to do is click on a secure Web site from any of your browsers on any of your computers, and LastPass ushers you right in. The program will even create secure random passwords for you, as long and as difficult as you would like.

In my tests, the program does have a few rough edges, especially regarding setup. I had to install it three times on my Windows PC to get it work with my two favorite browsers. I had a similar experience on my Mac. On most Web sites, the program worked immediately, but a few required some extra care – such as a few minutes reading the user manual. On my iPhone and iPad, the program uses its own browser – apparently it cannot attach to the Safari Web browser.

These rough edges are mostly temporary. Once you get the program set up, you can breeze into even your most secure Web site. It is well worth the price – either price – and the time needed to set it up. With LastPass you get both security and convenience – a very rare combination. And it this insecure world, it is not only convenient but also essential.

SECURITY NOTE

On June 15, 2015, LastPass posted a notice on its website saying, “our team discovered and blocked suspicious activity on our network. In our investigation, we have found no evidence that encrypted user vault data was taken, nor that LastPass user accounts were accessed. The investigation has shown, however, that LastPass account email addresses, password reminders, server per user salts, and authentication hashes were compromised.”

The company said that certain LastPass users would be advised to change their master password. I did not receive such a suggestion, but I took the opportunity to change my password anyway.

The bottom line is: Is LastPass still dependable? Security expert Steve Gibson still thinks so. And so do I.

— Rich Malloy

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Passwords Don’t Make Sense …

… Well, at least the good ones shouldn’t.

What that means is, if you have a password that is easy to remember, it is probably no good. If your password is a simple word, or a combination of words, or maybe even has a number or two, you and your data are skating on thin ice.

Hackers are cobbling together super-powerful PCs from parts such as old video-game consoles. What do they use them for? Play games? Predict the weather? No. They are used to guess people’s passwords, at the rate of gazillions a day. And they are getting faster and better every day.

Actually, in a sense they already probably know your password. Thanks to companies with lax security, millions of in-use passwords have been stolen and are freely available on the Internet. Many of our favorite passwords are no doubt in this collection. If your password is your child’s name followed by the year she was born, they probably already have that. If you cleverly switch the “e” with the number “3”, they probably have that as well. We are seeing, as security expert Steve Gibson termed it, “The Death of Clever.”

The best passwords are long strings of completely random characters, upper case, lower case, numerals, and symbols. And, we should have a different password for each of our accounts. But who can handle that? Well, there is a nice way of doing that, which I will mention in my next post. But right now, I’ll describe a handy way of creating pseudo-random passwords that are memorable.

Take one of your handy books or poems. Look at the second line (the first may be too obvious). Take the first letter of each word. Capitalize the letters for nouns, like the Germans do. Include punctuation marks. After the punctuation, include a numeral (say, the length of the word preceding the the punctuation). Stop when you have 12 characters.

So, for example, here is the second line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116:

Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove:

The password might be:

LinLWawiAf,5

Now, don’t use this technique exactly as I described it. Customize it in your own way. Just be sure to remember how you did it.

 

 

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Rejoice! Windows 8 Is Fixed

At last! Microsoft’s Windows 8 has become a decent and capable operating system. Most of its initial problems–most notably the missing Start button–have finally been fixed.

But … not by Microsoft.

Another company – Stardock – has come out with two indispensable add-ons for Windows 8 that should soothe the transition pains for most users who have found themselves saddled with the new operating system. What’s more, the programs are each only $5.

The first and more important of these add-ons is called Start8. It restores the Windows 7 Start button and Start menu so nicely you might wonder why Microsoft had not done this to begin with.  Even better, the OS now boots to the familiar Desktop rather than the somewhat jarring Metro–er–Modern screen.

Speaking of that, the second add-on, ModernMix, tames the new Modern apps. Instead of hijacking the entire screen, the Modern apps now behave just like the other programs inside resizable windows.

As I write this, reports are circulating with hints that Microsoft will restore the Start button to Windows 8 relatively soon. But will the new version include the Start Menu as well? And what about the Modern apps? Can a company as large as Microsoft do such a massive 180-degree turn? We’ll see.

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What the Plus!

A Great Combination:

Guy Kawasaki, from his website

Guy Kawasaki, from his website

A) Guy Kawasaki, at right: a bottomless source of practical, no-nonsense business advice for the computer industry for well on three decades.

B) Andrew Warner: the best interviewer of entrepreneurs, and one of the best podcast interviewers period.

C) Google Plus! (do I need to describe this?)

If you haven’t seen or heard Kawasaki – or you haven’t seen or heard any of Warner’s interviews – their latest collaboration is a must. Warner has a delicate way of asking surprisingy intrusive questions, and Kawasaki shares a wealth of information about the tech world, but the main theme is his love of Google+. He makes some good points. After listening, you might feel compelled to download Kawasaki’s cleverly titled ebook What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us (all of $2.99) and polish up your Google+ page. At least, I sure do.

Go to: http://mixergy.com/guy-kawasaki-what-the-plus-interview/

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